Retired business owner, parent, grandmother, wife, homeowner and 50-year Venetian, Helen Fallon seeks “To do her best keeping people involved,” in her race for Treasurer of the Venice Neighborhood Council!
By Nick Antonicello
Helen Fallon is a no-nonsense community activist who reminds me of New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, who like the legendary football icon, has high standards and believes in “doing your job, and doing it well” as paramount to success in any field of endeavor.
Whether it is decorating her award-winning Venice Canal property for the holidays (see attached), or ensuring that VNC meetings are properly run and managed, Helen Fallon is a stickler for doing things correctly and effectively in her role as one of Venice’s most informed and knowledgeable residents.
In essence, doing things right is at the heart of Helen Fallon.
I sat with Helen and her husband Bert for nearly three hours discussing Venice, the neighborhood council and the various issues that face this community like rampant homelessness, crime and a feeling that Venice is in need of a facelift of sorts as our public spaces and parcels are in many ways in disarray and that the quality-of-life issues we all crave could potentially return as we inch our way out of this three-year pandemic.
A homeowner since 1974, Helen has been a passionate volunteer be it her time at LAUSD where one of her children graduated from Venice High School and the other from Westchester High. Helen is a jack of all trades, who recently retired as an independent business owner offering professional bookkeeping and other financial services. Helen in her spare time likes to sew, create costumes for her grandchildren and playing WORDLE, as well as genealogy research and working on her language skills in French, Spanish and German.
Helen, who’s father spent time overseas as a member of the United States Army lived in both Germany and France as a child.
Helen’s Mother was French and she considers herself to be a “francophone.” A graduate of the University of Washington where she earned her BA, Fallon is an avid reader and has been a member of the Friends of the Venice Library for over 35 years.
Her home is smartly decorated overlooking the Venice Canals and is full of interesting and historic pieces of the history of our community framed proudly on her walls which gives insight into why she loves Venice so much and is willing to devote her time and energy to make it even better.
Many of Helen’s original calls to community action were when her kids attended local schools, especially after the 1994 Northridge earthquake that revealed many of the LAUSD facilities were not prepared for yet another quake. Due to her efforts with other parents, every LAUSD school was equipped a Land-Sea Container, that provided the necessary supplies as well as search and rescue gear and staff training.
Because of her financial expertise, Fallon reviewed school budgets and other financial data that uncovered waste and fraud. Fallon worked with numerous bilingual parents to identify that funds allocated for kids were not being diverted for other spending items.
Since 2019, Fallon has made the VNC her mission of sorts as she ran unsuccessfully for the position of Communications Officer in 2021 and currently sits on the VNC’s Budget Committee. She previously served as a member of the Public Safety Committee chaired by Community Officer and close ally, Soledad Ursua who is seeking reelection on the March 26th ballot.
Both Helen and her husband Bert were key volunteers in the 2021 Recall Bonin effort, that came within 5% of gathering the necessary signatures to oust the two-term incumbent who left the race in January of 2022 when it became obvious his (Mike Bonin) chances for reelection were over. The Fallon’s were original supporters of the Traci Park campaign for LA City Council which saw the Venice attorney defeat fellow lawyer and Venetian Erin Darling by a 52-48% margin last November in a race where nearly 100,000 votes were cast.
Fallon is a regular attendee of virtually every ZOOM VNC monthly meeting, as well as numerous committee ZOOM meetings such as Outreach, Oceanfront Walk, LUPC and ADCOM. Fallon is not shy in pointing out board deficiencies and mistakes, and to my knowledge rarely wrong in those observations and critiques. While some may find her style abrasive, I find her approach refreshing as getting things done right is always at the heart of her findings. She speaks not to hear herself talk, she speaks because she has something important to say and never, ever makes her comments personal, but strictly board business.
Fallon has brought forth numerous motions passed by the VNC as well as a stakeholder petition to maintain the Venice Median as open space, and a motion to enforce 41.18, which recently passed the LA City Council by a vote of 9-4, engineered by the efforts of Councilwoman Park (CD-11).
Fallon worked hard to ensure LA adopted an ordinance to prevent bicycle “chop shops” from operating on public spaces, and continues to call for the entire VNC to use “best practices” when solving local issues and concerns.
For Fallon, accountability and transparency are the keys to a more effective neighborhood council.
Fallon has already taken the training to serve as an NC Treasurer, and her background, credentials and resume make her a strong choice to fill this executive post.
Fallon believes “it is the VNC’s responsibility to economize where ever possible and put our tax dollars to use in a way that will provide lasting benefits and improvements for all of our Venice Neighborhoods.”
For Fallon, no public expenditure or invoice is too small to monitor or scrutinize and review.
Fallon is one of the few candidates to speak out on this absurd notion of electing 13 at-large Community Officers, with stakeholders only allowed to vote for one.
While there are 37 candidates for these 13 positions, Fallon says she will support efforts to reform this flawed electoral scheme of sorts!
“Considering our very distinct neighborhoods in Venice, this does not produce equitable results and in some years, even with a large voter turnout, the majority of Board Members lived west of Pacific and no one from East Venice was on the Board,” noted the candidate.
“The VNC bylaws need to be changed so our neighborhoods can each have a representative accountable and responsive to them.” Fallon also was concerned that “special interests” were not electing Board Members.
Fallon supports term limits for VNC officers because she feels there is little outreach to stakeholders and cited as examples the Road Diets on Venice Boulevard and the proposed revisions to the community plan to “up-zone and densify” Venice with 75-foot tall, mixed use projects up and down Lincoln Boulevard.
Helen Fallon is in a three-way race for treasurer with fellow Venice resident Eric Hartnack and incumbent Jay Handal who is not a resident, but local business owner and longtime fixture in the neighborhood council system across Los Angeles. Handal was appointed to the position when the previously elected treasurer, Andrea Boccaletti resigned.
The Fallon candidacy is more about attitude and approach and her philosophy is simple.
“Do your homework. Do your best, don’t lower your standards. Keep people involved. Speak up and speak out.”
To reach the candidate, e-mail her at: helenfallon4VNCTreasurer@gmail.com
Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venice resident who is exclusively covering the March 26th elections for the Venice Neighborhood Council. Are you a candidate and would like to be interviewed? Contact Antonicello at email@example.com