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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Korean Americans spearhead fresh start for LA Koreatown council

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Mark Lee, left, the newly-elected chairperson of WCKNC, presides over the first regular meeting at the Pio Pico Koreatown Branch Library on July 10. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]
The Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council (WCKNC) elected Mark Lee, the communications director of the Mission City Community Clinic, as its new chairperson on July 10.

This election marks a fresh start for the grassroots organization, which has faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and saw its authority and influence diminished with the transfer of management to the City of Los Angeles.

The 22 delegates, who will serve the 2023-25 term, held their first regular meeting on July 10 at the Pio Pico Koreatown Branch Library, where they pledged their commitment to serving the community.

Korean American delegates elected in May include Community Organization Representatives: Nathan Kim, Sandra Choi, Samuel M. Suh, Jennifer Chung, and Mark Lee; Business Representatives: Un Ji Lee, Erica Jung, Hoyle Kang, Kyungho Hwang, Ryan Min, and Jason Choi; At Large Representatives: Hu Ki Ryu, Becky Bae, and Bill Robinson; Youth Delegate: Audrey Han; Sub-District 3 Representative: Ko Eun Hwang Sara; Sub-District 4 Representative: Lillian Han, Timothy Kwak; Sub-District 2 Representative: Claire Cannon.

The majority of the delegates, 19 out of 26 seats, are Korean Americans, with 23 delegates having been elected while three seats remain vacant.

Mark Lee, who previously served on the Pico-Union Neighborhood Council for six years from 2010, brings valuable leadership experience to the council, including four years as chair. Lee also served as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Commissioner for the City of Alhambra from 2016 to this year, managing federal funds, which has given him familiarity with city government communication and administration.

“I am excited to regain control of WCKNC, which was previously transferred to the City of Los Angeles due to WCKNC’s inability,” said Lee. “Drawing from my experience in another neighborhood council, I plan to streamline the meeting process by cutting through bureaucracy, assigning appropriate individuals to tasks to enhance efficiency, and creating a better neighborhood environment.”

Lee emphasized the importance of having English-speaking and professional representatives, stating that the neighborhood council would undoubtedly fulfill its role and bring significant benefits to the community.

While the WCKNC anticipates a six-month recovery period to resume its previous activities, Lee revealed plans to meet with the Olympic Police Chief later in the month to establish connections and promote cooperation.

He explained, “Previously, it was challenging for the police to engage with the neighborhood council due to opposition from some delegates towards the LAPD. However, we will rebuild the relationship and prioritize community safety.”

Lee further outlined his agenda, stating, “I plan to discuss funding for this year’s LA Korean Festival and Bangladeshi Community Festival, support the LAPD’s annual community event, National Night Out, and relaunch the now defunct WCKNC website at our next meeting.” These initiatives demonstrate a proactive approach at the beginning of his term.

In addition to the election of the new chairperson, Erica Jung was elected as the chief deputy chairperson, Shazia Hoq as the deputy chairperson, Ko Eun Hwang Sara as the treasurer, and Jason Choi as the secretary.

Furthermore, eight subcommittees, including the Land Planning and Use Committee, the Homeless and Tenants’ Rights Committee, and the Sustainability and Environmental Beautification Committee, will consist of two to four delegates each to address community issues more effectively.

BY SUAH JANG   [jang.suah@koreadaily.com]