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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Mark Lee, chairman of the WCKNC, resigns from his position

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After successfully rebuilding the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council (WCKNC) with his fellow delegates, Mark Lee has announced his resignation after one year in office as chairman.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCKNC was virtually paralyzed due to a lack of delegate attendance. Mark Lee and his colleagues stepped in to restore and revitalize the organization within a year.

On April 29, The Korea Daily interviewed Mark Lee, who is stepping down as chairman on April 30.

Mark Lee

Below are edited excerpts from our interview with WCKNC’s Chairman Mark Lee.

-Why did you suddenly decide to resign?
“It’s something I promised my colleagues from the beginning of the WCKNC. At the time, town residents and former WCKNC delegates came to me and asked me to save the council. So I made a promise to my colleagues that within a year, we would get the council back on track and I would step down. I kept my word.”

-The normalization of WCKNC happened very quickly.
“Yes, it has. Within a week of starting this term in July of 2023, the city of Los Angeles notified us that we were no longer under the city’s control and released $30,000 in tied-up funds. On top of that, they released $15,000 that the previous term hadn’t spent.”

-How was this possible?
“As a former chair of the Pico Union Neighborhood Council, I was familiar with the process, so I had my colleagues complete all of the delegate training required by the City of Los Angeles shortly after the announcement of my election result in May of 2023. Then, I submitted my budget to the City of Los Angeles at the start of my term in July.”

-What are WCKNC’s key accomplishments over the past year?
“First, we organized regular coffee time with the Olympic Police Station Captain to receive complaints from residents. Based on that, we developed a platform to receive complaints by phone, message, and KakaoTalk. In addition, we revitalized the WCKNC’s website that had disappeared and held a cleanup campaign. We also laid the groundwork for free wood and bicycles and revised the policies of the neighborhood council, which will be implemented under the next Chairman.”

-How many complaints does WCKNC receive?
“We get at least three or four a day. Most of them are related to homelessness, and others are related to illegal dumping of garbage or noise from karaoke bars.”

-How has the neighborhood changed?
“First of all, the residents have changed. In the past, they would call and complain, but now that they’re educated, they have a pattern. They know that things will be resolved if they go through the formal process. The neighborhood council acts as a bridge, taking the petition and delivering it to the right place, whether it’s the police, the city council, or the mayor’s office. In fact, after sending the petition, the homeless camps near Robert F. Kennedy Park and Seoul International Park, which had been a problem, were eliminated, which I consider a great achievement.”

-Is there any way WCKNC could improve?
“Even though it’s a volunteer organization, it’s a lot of work, so it’s not easy for delegates to stay together and keep going. The role of the next chair is crucial if we don’t want the council to go back to where it was a year ago. They need to have a strong sense of service, leadership, and a sense of quickly recognizing the needs of the residents.”

-When is the next Chair election?
“We will be holding a volunteer election at next month’s WCKNC meeting. I will resign after turning over all my files to EmpowerLA.”

-What are your next plans?
“In two years, I plan to run for the Alhambra School District board where I live. It’s a competitive seat, so I need to start preparing now. If I win, I plan to run for Alhambra City Council after that.”

BY SUAH JANG, JUNHAN PARK    [jang.suah@koreadaily.com]