Her Turn

Joan Pelico has fought and won many battles. And now she is revving up for another, as she makes a run for an LA city council seat.

Joan Pelico says when she got promoted from district director to chief of staff for city councilmember Paul Koretz (District 5) a year and a half ago, it was a watershed moment. After nine years in the council office, it became clear to the 59-year-old that she was destined for a larger leadership role. 

“When I got here, I saw how the council was running and watched the different committees in action. I thought, ‘This isn’t rocket science. I could do this—and more efficiently.’”

Joan set her sights on the seat for District 4, soon to be vacated by Tom LaBonge. While District 4 crisscrosses the city, and includes areas like Los Feliz and Larchmont, 40% of it is comprised by Sherman Oaks, where Joan has lived for 28 years. With the March 3 election on the horizon, she sits down with Ventura Blvd editor Linda Grasso to outline why she believes she is the best candidate among the dozen vying for the job. 


Did your experience raising your daughter (now 20) prepare you in any way for a council seat?

Sure. My daughter was adopted at birth. When she was 7, I got divorced. And from that point on she lived with me, and I paid for everything. It wasn’t worth going after my ex-husband for support. Also, through having a daughter, I was president of the Sherman Oaks Elementary School parent association. I learned to be efficient and delegate. Like many mothers, both married and single, I multi-task and just get it done. 

Every time I was told it couldn’t be done, I got it done.

What else prepped you?

I have served people in the public and private sector for 42 years, with positions ranging from senior field deputy to chief of staff in the council office, where I’ve worked for over nine consecutive years. I’ve built relationships with the city departments and educated myself on how each one works. I’ve listened carefully to the people, and I understand their concerns and issues. Every time I was told it couldn’t be done, I got it done. 


Is there one big goal that you have specifically regard-ing the Valley?

Improving public transportation. I want to look into the feasibility and funding of rail from the Valley to the Westside. I’d also like to see a rubber wheel trolley that does not require tracks or construction. 


Other goals you’d like to mention?

I want our busines-ses to thrive. I’d like to streamline the permit process and stop making it so difficult for people to open a business. I am also in total sup-port of eliminating the gross receipts tax and continuing to give better tax incentives to our entertainment/film industry. And children: One of the prerequisites to work in my office will be to mentor a child. We need to pave the way for successful adults by working with at-risk youth and families in need. 


You say you’d run the council more efficiently. Elaborate.

I see people take a day off work and come to city hall, and they’re forced to wait and wait. I see the frustration on their faces. The council sits on committee matters without resolve. Sometimes they postpone a matter for 30 days and ask people to come back. This is a real issue. 


Who in the LA public service arena do you admire? 

The many volunteers who put countless hours in, with no agenda except wanting to help others. Also Maxine Waters: She is smart, trustworthy and fearless. In the ‘60s she started as a Head Start teacher after the Watts riots and then got into community organizing to get things done. She just gets it done. 


Thoughts on alleviating Valley traffic?

There are only two ways to deal with traffic: increase supply or decrease demand. Increasing supply through additional lanes is virtually impossible in an urban environment such as council District 4. This leaves the only other option: increasing supply by increasing efficiency. One way to do that is adding left turn arrows so the queues don’t overflow into through lanes, like the left turn arrows I had put in on Ventura Boulevard at two intersections: Woodman and Hazeltine.  


How can we make the Valley a more attractive place?

Keep it clean and green. I want to see less concrete and more green. Broken windows must be repaired immediately; otherwise it looks like we don’t care, and soon more windows get smashed and trash accumulates. We need to keep trash off our sidewalks and medians, and we need to work with businesses to keep storefronts inviting.