2nd District race focuses on healthcare

SOUTH LOS ANGELES The first competitive race in years for a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors came down to the wire Monday. City Councilman /*Bernard Parks*/ campaigned hard across the /*2nd District*/ as the former police chief unveiled a billboard soliciting the public's help in a long-unsolved murder spree. And he spoke to seniors at the Oasis Center in the Crenshaw District.

Parks' opponent, State Senator /*Mark Ridley-Thomas*/, took time out only to appear at a Democratic party rally on the steps of city hall. Park was there too.

Ridley-Thomas has outspent Parks by a large margin using a huge war chest funded largely by the County Labor Federation and public employee unions. But despite the disadvantage, Parks says he's confident.

"We just feel very good about it. We think with these last two days that we're going to just keep pushing and win it on the 4th," said Councilman Parks.

Both candidates list healthcare as a number-one issue. Both say they'd like to bring adequate healthcare to the residents of the 2nd District, and both say they want to reinstate Martin Luther King Drew Medical Center as a fully functioning hospital.

King-Drew's teaching hospital and emergency facilities were shuttered after critical audits uncovered sub-standard care. Ridley-Thomas proposes forming a public-private partnership to take over and run it.

"I am duty-bound to make sure that the Martin Luther King Medical Center is reopened with a new set of expectations, a new set of standards," said Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Bernard Parks says the county should create a health authority to run all county hospitals and clinics, including King-Drew.

"Fifty percent of the community already is without healthcare. MLK is the center piece of that issue of reopening that hospital," said Bernard Parks.

Whoever wins will represent 2 million people in a sprawling district that stretches from Carson and Gardena up to Culver City through West and South L.A. The race is expected to be tight.

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