By Laurel Busby
With no lobbyist or developer funds, Jesse Creed seeks to be the next city councilmember for District 5, a seat held since 2009 by Democrat Paul Koretz.
“I’ve pledged not to take a cent of lobbyist money or developer money, so I can represent the community and not the narrow interests of wealthy campaign donors,” said Creed, who graduated from Palisades High School in 2003. In May, “we launched a campaign as a moon shot, but we’ve defied expectations every step of the way.”
As of mid-January, the campaign had raised $350,000 and received 150 community endorsements, said Creed, who moved to Pacific Palisades from Toronto when he was 12, but now lives near the Beverly Center. He noted that his reasons for running for office were simple.
“People feel like City Hall has stopped listening to them,”Creed, 31, said. “They’re skeptical of the process, because every rule has become negotiable.”
He seeks to change that. For Creed, a Columbia Law School graduate who specializes in nonprofit law, several issues are central to his platform. For developer and land use issues, he would like to ensure that the law is followed and that the City Council is not overriding the Planning Department by providing variances to developers instead of supporting community interests.
“Paul Koretz has approved every single project that has come before him, regardless of whether there has been any analysis of the benefits,” Creed said. “You always follow the money with these things,” noting that he believes developer money has been behind Koretz’s votes.
Koretz’s campaign consultant Parke Skelton declined to comment, aside from calling Creed’s statement “broad” and “ridiculous.” He instead said he would only address questions on specific projects.
Creed said other important issues to him include those that are priorities throughout the Westside, such as traffic, public safety/crime, the environment and homelessness. (District 5 stretches east from the 405 Freeway and includes Encino, Westwood, Century City and Hollywood.)
To address traffic, Creed would like the city to improve the walkability and bike-friendliness of neighborhoods while also investing in public transit. “We need to build on a human scale with neighborhoods that are walkable and bikeable, so that you don’t have to drive to run every errand,” he said.
Homelessness has been something Creed has worked to address via his job at Munger, Tolles and Olson. At the law firm, where he has worked since 2012, he negotiated a settlement for homeless veterans with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the construction of 1,200 apartments at the Westwood VA campus.
However, he said homelessness has “such an enormous scale. People feel very helpless. Communities are organizing to handle the problem in the small ways that they can.” In his neighborhood, he takes time to speak to the nearby homeless, including women who escaped spousal abuse, but now have to live on the streets.
“They live in filth and squalor; it’s traumatizing,” Creed said. “No one feels good about it, whether you’re afraid for the health of your children or whether you have a moral objection that we as a society let people live in that condition.”
The recent work in the Palisades to address homelessness has been held up as a model by the LAPD, owing to the town’s engaged residents, successful leadership and sustained impact on the problem, Creed said. However, overall crime has risen in the city, and he said police consider escalating homelessness to be one factor, as the homeless may be more likely to be both victims and perpetrators of crimes.
In addition to providing more affordable housing and generally reducing homelessness, Creed, a Democrat, would like to improve public safety by increasing the number of LAPD officers. “We have the lowest budget per person for a police force of any major city in the United States,” Creed said. “New York has almost double per person.”
Government has always been an interest for Creed, who was both PaliHi salutatorian and senior class president. During those days, he held an internship with Rep. Henry Waxman. He also orchestrated school events like the prom and fundraising events for Crohn’s disease, which he developed in high school and which is now in remission.
Just prior to graduation, Creed’s leadership teacher Chris Lee said, “He is extremely ambitious, but refreshingly down to earth. He likes learning and he likes thinking . . . He paves such a path for continued success for himself.”
Creed has continued to remain close to his family, which includes parents Shari and Tom (an active member of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club) plus older siblings Brandon, a music manager, Matt, a filmmaker, and Emily, a teacher. Currently, he and his wife, Mia Munroe, a civil rights attorney, are looking to start their own family.
As an undergraduate at Princeton, Creed was the student representative for Princeton’s Board of Trustees Finance Committee and also the vice president of undergraduate student government. At Columbia, he was one of the Law Review editors and worked with the Legal Aid Society on immigration defense. In addition, after he graduated in 2010, Creed worked as a law clerk for the Court of Appeals in both the ninth and fourth circuits.
Pro bono work is central to his career now, and he also relishes hard work and problem solving. “The most important work is the work on your desk; doing a good job generates new matters, including pro bono cases,” Creed said. “I love to work . . . I love solving problems, and I’ll work tirelessly to do it.”