By Joy Hanna and Jasmine Kim
Councilmember John Lee began his journey to public service as a student at Granada Hills High School. Lee graduated in 1988.
“I’m so proud to represent you guys and so proud to call you my alumni because of all the different things you guys are doing at the school. I mean it’s amazing when I go and visit and I support your robotics team or the acadeca team wins again. It’s incredible talking to these kids,” Councilmember Lee said.
Using his experiences as a longtime resident of Granada Hills, Lee focuses on supporting public safety, local businesses, and overall improvements in the Twelfth District.
Lee was first elected to the Los Angeles City Council during an election in August 2019 before being re-elected to his first full term in March 2020.
As a resident of CD12 for over 40 years, Lee found his passion for public service at a very early age when he first began volunteering for a local nonprofit for children with developmental disabilities. His deep understanding of the City’s legislative and budgeting processes along with day-to-day operations gives him an immense insight into what works and what doesn’t at City Hall, which is very helpful when it comes to making important decisions for our district.
Lee credits his parents for his interest in public service and his reason for running for the position of a council member. He said that he does not have typical Korean parents who stress becoming lawyers and doctors.
“They always wanted me to be in public service. My dad saw a lot of the inequalities that were happening in the world… He was always one of those people who taught me and my brother how important it was to be involved, how important it was to be a part of the community. He always taught us that if we wanted to make a change we needed to do it from the inside. And so it’s been a family thing. For me it was always public service,” Councilmember Lee said.
As a former small business owner, John Lee believes that small businesses are vital to a strong and thriving economy in the San Fernando Valley and continues to support policies and programs that eliminate oppressive and troublesome fees. He hopes to make Los Angeles a more business-friendly city.
“John is committed to putting the neighborhoods of the Twelfth District first and ensuring that his constituents have a voice at City Hall,” according to the Council District 12 website.
Even a global pandemic did not build up a barrier between Lee and the community. In partnership with the nonprofit organization, The Change Reaction, he launched the innovative CD12 Small Business Relief Fund, which provides zero interest loans to struggling small businesses. To date, the Small Business Relief Fund has provided approximately $700,000 in loans to 60 local small businesses in the northwest San Fernando Valley.
He also recently announced the launch of Project Elevate, which provides financial assistance in the form of grants and subsidies for college application and testing fees for students whose families were impacted by the pandemic.
Along with all the amazing projects Councilmember John Lee has been apart of, he also introduced an emergency rental assistance subsidy program for low-income residents of CD12, which recognized the domino effect of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, and advocated for and supported programs that not only provided reassurance and comfort to tenants, but also to landlords.
These initiatives are only a small part of what Lee does to go out of his way to make sure everyone in his community is taken care of no matter the circumstance.
Lee is a strong council member and isn’t afraid to tackle important matters or fight for what’s right for the people of the Twelfth District. He continues to be a helpful leader on the City Council, and pushes for more efficiency and accountability to ensure that the government is delivering what it says it’s delivering, which is services that residents can rely on to keep the Twelfth District, which is a safe, vibrant, thriving place to live and work.
“What I found out about being in this job and public service for over 20 years is that it’s important that we talk to each other, that we respect each other and each other’s opinions. I think we get so much more work done when we focus on the things that we agree on rather than the things we don’t agree on,” Councilmember Lee said.