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LA City Council gender imbalance amplifies with Janice Hahn's departure

July 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The shape-shifting political scene in Los Angeles has reduced the number of women on the 15-member Los Angeles City Council from 1/3 to just one woman.

The last woman remaining on the Los Angeles City Council helped re-open the doors to the city libraries on Monday. Jan Perry started on the council when there were five women elected to the powerful group of elected city officials.

Now it's Perry, 13 men and an empty seat on the city council.

"That's why it's been a mission of mine to try to find a qualified female candidate to replace me," Perry said. "I've got three or four people who are interested but I'm still talking. I'm still looking."

Her other female colleague, Janice Hahn, will be sworn in Tuesday as a U.S. congresswoman. For the first time in 64 years, there isn't a Hahn filling a government position in Los Angeles County.

A spokesperson for Hahn says the congresswoman-elect is not reaching out to find a woman or any other candidate for her old council seat.

When City Controller Wendy Greuel was on the council, she was one of the five women. She said she thinks it's important that women step up. So far, only men have declared an interest in Hahn's empty council seat.

"I'm only the second woman in the history of Los Angeles to be a citywide elected official, only the third woman in history to have a child while in office," Greuel said. "Those are things that people look at and say, 'Can I do it?' The message we want to send to women out there is yes, you can."

Perry will be forced to leave the city council in 2013. She intends to run for mayor and to try to find a woman to succeed her.

"I think it's important to have a woman on the council to create a counterpoint, a different perspective," Perry said.


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