Marquita Thomas is running for one of three open seats in West Hollywood City Council in the upcoming City of West Hollywood Municipal General Election on November 8, 2022. We ran into the candidate at a meet and greet at The Collective Realty hosted by by Anthony Vulin, located at 8278, 1/2 Santa Monica Blvd, and asked her some questions.
How long have you lived in West Hollywood?
I’ve lived here for 27 years.
City council sounds like a miserable job full of hardships, six-hour long council meetings, and people criticizing your every move. Why on earth do you want the job?
That’s Ok. I’m good with hard work. Listen, I love this city. I plan on living the rest of my days in this city. I’m running for West Hollywood city council because I feel like in a lot of ways the city has lost its way in terms of public safety, housing affordability, our unhoused crisis and also our business advocacy.
So what kind of experience are you bringing to the table?
As a planning commissioner, as a former human services commissioner, as the executive director of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, I have the skills and experience to address all those issues. I’m also a renter, so improving our renter’s protections and improving our renter’s habitability is very important to me. We also need to have more compassionate and effective solutions for our unhoused crisis.
How will you improve public safety?
I want to make our public safety more collaborative. I don’t think it needs to be Block by Block versus our Sheriff’s Department. The businesses, the residents, the neighborhood watches, we all need to work together to make this a safer city. We also need to heal our relationships with the business community because our businesses are what make this city a creative, world class city. We need to make sure that they’re getting the resources that businesses need so that businesses and workers are thriving.
There seems to be a lot of divisiveness between the city and its businesses. How will you address these issues?
There is divisiveness, but we need to move forward and become a city that respects its businesses as well as its workers to make sure that everybody is thriving. We want to make sure that we’re not over-regulating our businesses. We also want to make sure that we’re protecting our workers. Let’s talk about the path forward and leave the ugliness in the past. I’ve been doing this for over a decade in my capacity through the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber. I’m used to bringing different stakeholders together to solve problems. I know the city can get back on track. I’m confident of it and I’m looking forward to being a part of the new council that does that work.
What has the campaign trail been like for you?
It’s been amazing connecting with residents and hearing from different people, some who have lived in the city for a very long time, some who have recently moved here, and the one thing that we have in common is that we absolutely love this city and we want to see it get back to where it’s been.
What’s your take on the city’s walkability?
We need to improve the walkability for sure. We need to make this an even more walkable city. We need to encourage micro mobility and get people to reduce their reliance on cars and hit the streets and patronize our businesses and meet our neighbors and get back to being the West Hollywood we all know and love.
This isn’t the first time on the campaign rodeo, right?
It’s my second time. Fun fact, when I ran in 2019, I became the first black person to ever run for West Hollywood City council. That’s just a fun fact. I’m looking to be the first black person to win. It’s been great connecting with the neighbors. It’s great hearing from different people about what’s important to them and hearing from people who are just starting families, to people who are aging in place, to people who are business owners, to people who want more resources for their pets. It’s been great and I’m looking forward to what the next couple of weeks bring.
What are the differences from this campaign to the last one?
It’s a much stronger campaign. I’ve raised more, have built a better team, I have more endorsements, I built more momentum. It was a strong campaign before, but it’s much stronger this time. I come with more experience for sure. I was in LGAB [Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board] then, and I moved on to human services, so I understand how city contracts work. Now, I’m not only vice chair of Planning Commission, but I’m also Chair of Long-Range Planning, so I have far more experience now, and of course, I still bring my skills as executive director of the Chamber.
What would it mean for you to be the first Black woman to be a council member in the city of West Hollywood?
It would mean the world. Representation matters. Diverse voices are important, whether it’s diversity in age, religion, racial identity, LGBTQ-ness–all of those brackets matter in decision-making. I’m going to win because of my experience and my skills, not the community that I represent, but I do think it would mean a lot for the communities of color to see more diversity in the West Hollywood city council. I’m a new voice. I’m ready to get started on Day One and address the issues this city is facing. Like I said before, I love this city and I just want to make it better.
To learn more about Marquita Thomas, visit: https://www.marquita4weho.com/.