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    HomeNewsQ&A - Meet West Hollywood Planning Commissioner Mark R. Edwards

    Q&A – Meet West Hollywood Planning Commissioner Mark R. Edwards

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    Meet West Hollywood Planning Commissioner Mark R. Edwards—an appointee of Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers. He’s a resident of Weho, a local activist, and an engaged community member who resides in West Hollywood’s Eastside.

    Mark was recently appointed as the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass‘ office of Legislative Affairs. WEHO TIMES sat down with the newly appointed Deputy to learn more about his community activism and his new role in Mayor Bass’ office.

    Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers swearing in Mark R. Edwards to Planning Commission

    Tell us about your WeHo origin story.

    I first fell in love with WeHo in 1998 when I did an internship with the City of West Hollywood’s Recreation and Parks Department. I was hired to manage the Summer Youth Program. The program focused on hiring youth from the community to serve in a variety of roles. It was an opportunity for the youth to learn the process of applying for work and to gain work experience. 

    I was inspired by the collaborative and nurturing spirit of a program paid by the taxpayers of WeHo that served a youth population that was diverse. 

    You have been involved in local issues for quite some time, including being campaign manager for Sam Borelli for his city council run–what was your inspiration or incentive to begin your civic involvement in this city?

    I grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, at the cusp of integration. There was an adjacent city that experienced white flight to a high degree. Cleveland Heights leaders knew they had to be intentional in ensuring a just transition to becoming integrated. To that end, the Heights Community Congress was created and my mom was involved. I remember boxes of envelopes and letters that me and my brother would process for mailing to local residents and attending meetings. The organization was successful in developing creative approaches to integration that resulted in Heights still integrated to this day. 

    West Hollywood is my West Coast Heights! The civic culture of WeHo is dynamic and inviting, so there were many pathways for participation and at any comfort level. WeHo is intentional and creative in building a shared narrative of being in community. 

    Both cities actively engage in the philosophical question of who gets to participate in our democracy. Both cities agree that we want to be inclusive, because it leads to developing or improving policies to ensure fairness and we can live our best lives. 

    Tell us about your new position as Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.

    Mayor Bass’ theory of change can be exemplified in her 2023 Year-in-Review theme of “Locking Arms and Delivering for L.A.” The Legislative Affairs team role is working with city council on shared goals, such as ending homelessness as we know it. By working collaboratively to create and implement sustainable programs, more and more people can live their best lives. 

    Will you be able to continue in your role as a Planning Commissioner?

    Yes.

    West Hollywood Commissioner Mark R. Edwards

    You also served in the military-  can you tell us about your service and how it has influenced your outlook and civic efforts?

    I gave a brief history of my parent’s civic engagement, especially my mom. A deeper dive into my family history, there are many relatives who served in the military. Joining the Marine Corps was an opportunity to learn more about myself and to be in service. I loved the shared experience of working with my fellow Marines to achieve a mission, but also experienced a lot of challenges when it came to the process of our work.  

    After leaving the Marine Corps, I became obsessed with systems and how they inform our lives both implicitly and explicitly. That led to my choice of a degree in Urban Studies with a concentration on Public Administration and Community Service. 

    My military experience reinforced being in service while igniting a passion for understanding the role of civic society and how we can make it work for all people. 

    As a Weho East sider, how would you say your geographic location has influenced the causes you are engaged in?

    Walkability is my buzz word. I can walk to grocery stores, to meet for coffee with friends, and quick access to public transportation. It is so walkable that I do not have a car, because I live in a 15-minute city. I do not want my experience to be exclusive to WeHo, but a concept that can work for all of Los Angeles.

    What  hopes do you have for the future of West Hollywood?

    My hopes and work is focused on ensuring WeHo never loses it vision of an inclusive city that is a safe harbor for youth seeking safety, the elderly aging in the community, a home for creative people, and a dynamic city that incentivizes diversity.

    Thank you for engaging with us, congratulations, and good iuck in this new role!

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    Catherine Eng
    Catherine Eng
    Catherine Eng is a long time resident of the City of West Hollywood. She currently serves as a West Hollywood Business License Commissioner, was a journalism major, and is a supporter of Weho Times @thedamecat

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    Sam
    Sam
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    4 months ago

    Mark is a mensch! Mark is smart and talented. Mark is committed to community and to lifting people up. I’m glad to see Mark get some recognition. And I’m stoked about his new position. I’m proud to call him brother for over a decade.

    Catherine Eng
    Catherine Eng
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    Reply to  Sam
    4 months ago

    He’s an asset to our city and I am happy to have him as a friend 

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