LOS FELIZ/SHERMAN OAKS—On August 4, Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu announced the hiring of five new staff members, including three field deputies, a communications director, and the chief planning and land use deputy. Most of the staffers worked under Council District 4’s former Councilman Tom LaBonge.
Field deputies serve as liaisons between city hall and citizens: each one is assigned a specific area, and serves that area more precisely than a council member can, addressing each area’s unique populations and neighborhood-specific problems. Field deputies are particularly important in large districts. Council District 4, stretches from Sherman Oaks to Griffith Park, and contains a variety of neighborhoods, including Los Feliz, the Fairfax district, and the Hollywood Hills.
Catherine Landers, who was the community outreach director for Ryu’s city council campaign, will serve as the senior field deputy for Los Feliz, Silverlake, and the Hollywood Hills. Alice Roth was named the deputy for Sherman Oaks and Silverlake, and Nikki Ezhari will be the deputy for the Wilshire area, Larchmont, and Miracle Mile. Roth and Ezhari both worked as deputies for LaBonge during his 14 years in office.
Renee Weitzer was appointed as chief planning and land use deputy. She has 35 years of experience as a planning and land use deputy for the City of Los Angeles. In 1980, at Councilman Joel Wachs’ request, she joined his team. Previously, she had served as the president of the Encino Homeowners Association for 15 years. She is also very familiar with the needs of Council District 4, as she has served as chief planning and land use deputy there for 26 years. Before joining Ryu’s staff, she worked under LaBonge and his predecessor, John Ferraro. As chief planning and land use deputy, her responsibilities are to identify which planning projects of the district deserve the most attention.
Estevan Montemayor will serve as Ryu’s communications director. He is a UCLA graduate, and LGBT activist. He recently worked as the campaign manager for the current mayor of West Hollywood, Lindsey Horvath. He previously worked as an aide to former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He also worked as a communications and research associate at the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization that sponsored the federal constitutional challenges to anti-gay marriage legislation like California’s Proposition 8 and Virginia’s Marriage Amendment.
Ryu said that his staffers will help him with his ultimate goal of “put[ting] transparency first.” Ryu has a strong commitment to transparency. In order to increase spending transparency, he and his fellow councilmembers rescinded $600,000 in last minute spending that LaBonge had committed to local projects. Ryu plans to redistribute the money once he receives more community input.