Editor’s note: This is one of several articles in a series of profiles on Venice candidates.
What would you prioritize if you were voted in?
Although I have a pretty long list of ideas to improve our community, if I were to come up with a list of my top three, they would be:
1) Tackle the rise in homelessness and lack of organizational resources to get them reinserted into a functional lifestyle
2) Engage crime prevention modalities and community empowerment groups to reduce the incidence of violent crime and substance abuse
3) Address issues of transit, traffic and urban space by building bike lanes, introducing more one-way streets, and constructing remote parking sites with constant shuttles just to begin.
Who are your primary supporters?
I have actually found that being a firefighter and paramedic in Venice has really offered me a broad group of supporters throughout the community. When I'm off duty I always get involved in a slew of projects whether it's an art show, putting on cooking classes, doing school visits with our local kids and so forth. I guess I am always engaged with the community and I have built a huge network of friends and supporters.
What issue do you feel most strongly about and what’s your position?
I feel that Venice is a truly vibrant neighborhood with a real fire in its belly. There is a creative momentum here which I feel will never dwindle and that makes this such a special place. My greatest concern though is that as inviting as the neighborhood may be, many people have some concerns, at least at times, for their safety. It certainly isn't a feeling at the forefront, but it permeates enough to impact a complete sense of freedom.
What's one thing most constituents don't know about you?
People are often surprised when they learn about my background. Although I was born here, I grew up partly in the city of Paris in France. I spent a lot of time traveling and learning new languages and about new cultures. I currently speak english, french, german, italian, spanish, some armenian which I am a bit out of practice with and some basics in several other languages. My lifetime goal is to know a little bit of every UN language.
Why did you decide to run?
I have often sat around pointing out issues and thinking about ways to improve them. The true nature of the job of firefighter is actually being a problem solver. We are handed a broken situation and are then expected to instantly piece it back together. I have become extremely competent at finding resolutions to issues and as a public servant I feel I need to do even more for the community. Putting the two together clearly pointed me in this direction.
Sevan Gerard is running for At-Large Community Officer on the Venice Neighborhood Council. To read more candidate profiles, click here.