By Nick Antonicello
VENICE – Local caterer Erica Moore is making a second run for the Venice Neighborhood Council, but this time for the position of an at-large community officer.
There are 37 candidates for just 13 positions and current voting guidelines only allow stakeholders to cast a single vote.
Two years ago Erica challenged Melissa Diner for the position of VNC Secretary, but was unsuccessful. Diner is not seeking reelection this year and Tima Bell, a local architect is running unopposed.
Always engaged, Erica is a frequent attendee of the VNC’s ZOOM meetings where she will regularly make public comment and suggestions to the full board.
Erica is the quintessential volunteer who cares about Venice and in particular, East Venice where the board has historically lacked representation as most board members reside west of Lincoln Boulevard.
A local business owner, Erica took the time to answer some questions and here below are her responses. Please note the election is Sunday, March 26th and voting will be held at the Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California Avenue and the polls will open at 10:00 AM:
Tell us about yourself:
The best way to describe me is that I am full of enthusiasm and energy!
I consider myself “Old School” with an innovative twist. I am loyal and live my life being of service and advocating for others both human and animal critters too.
I’m a single mom of 4 boys – my oldest son is Robert and amazing mechanic and artist. He became my foster son at age 9, he is now 39 – Rob is from same orphanage as Marilyn Monroe. Next is my 20 year old, Merrick who is in college majoring in Political Science.
I am originally from Orange County growing up in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and the quaint City of Orange. I started working at age 13 and by 9th grade I was selling lunches and dinners to my teachers and moved out on my own at age 16 working full time and still attending high school until my Senior year.
At age 17 I moved to Hawaii for a short period and then returned to work as a secretary at my Grandfather’s company while attending Santa Monica College at night where I obtained my GED. My Grandfather developed Alzheimer’s and colon cancer so I became his caretaker followed by becoming the conservator/POA for both parents and my Granny as well.
My company, “Bonne Bouffe” was started in my early 20’s with my 2 closest girlfriends and I became the sole owner when I was 27. A large chunk of my life and time has been creating events and food for thousands of people of all ages.
The other focus in my life has been my two sons. As a Foster Parent I became D Certified as my son has special needs and I was deemed by the courts a “Superior Foster Mother” based on my ongoing intensive involvement in addressing my son’s specific needs which were immense. In support of my youngest, I have always been involved at all schools, was on the SSC twice, ELAC as a representative. I am always the “Team Mom” and attended almost every single sports event even when out of town for his entire life and that has been A LOT! It is a whole new world now that he is not a Varsity Soccer Goalie or Point Guard or Wide Receiver.
Where do you reside in Venice?
We are renters of a little house in East Venice. Previously, I have been a renter in other Venice neighborhoods: near the boardwalk on Speedway/Paloma and Linnie Canal across from the little park and next door to my business on Venice Boulevard.
Are you a business owner?
I am a business owner for over 38 years at the same location in Venice on Venice Boulevard.
You ran in the last election for secretary, but this time community officer. Since this was an open seat, why did you decide to run for community officer v secretary?
Actually, I was planning to run for Secretary but saw another candidate was running for the position. I felt she would be excellent due to her experience and VNC involvement so it made sense for met to run for a different position. However, in a disappointing twist, she withdrew her application in the late hours just before the deadline. After reviewing the other positions and candidates running, it made sense that At-Large Community Officer would be a perfect fit for me.
Last year I joined the Venice Community Resiliency Committee team and I love it! There is so much to learn about disaster preparedness and I enjoy being a voting member of this essential group and invite anyone reading this to join us and attend our meetings and/or the free trainings we offer.
I’ve been attending VNC meetings regularly for years, actively participating. Several years ago I gave a formal presentation to the VNC Board regarding an appeal for a project near my business offering more than 7 affordable units in a 72 unit building, etc. I walked the streets for hours here and gathering signatures while connecting with and sharing information to the neighbors who had no idea what was coming in our neighborhood. The Rose-Penmar Path is another project I am passionate about as I care about the path being preserved with decomposed granite for runners and walkers, green scaping, drainage and infrastructure which are serious issues that impact all of us in Venice.
I can be counted on to continue speaking up for all Venice Stakeholders who ask me to. I do what I can to communicate and invite others to take actions in areas they are concerned about. Many East Venice issues have gone unnoticed until it is too late but that is changing, East Venice is within the VNC’s boundaries so it would be an honor to amplify the visibility of our needs. Often I already act as a voice for my neighbors at their request, gathering specific information that connects them to others who can facilitate a result for them or guide them to take action for themselves.
There are 37 candidates running for community officers and 13 will be elected, but stakeholders only get to select one candidate. Will you support a BY LAWS revision that would allow stakeholders to select all thirteen officers?
I am in full support of a revision as I believe one vote for 13 positions is not reasonable or effective in balanced representation.
You are a small business owner here in the Venice. How does that experience prepare you to serve on the VNC?
Owning my business for over 38 years has provided me with a host of skillsets that are assets I can bring to the VNC. My company is service-oriented and that is where my heart is happiest. I love being of service in all kinds of ways. My attentiveness has been acknowledged over the years as written up in Los Angeles Magazine several times, Buzz Magazine, Special Events Magazine, first edition of In Style and I was the first caterer to be featured on the cover of Chef Magazine.
Serving a highly recognizable clientele creating all kinds of customized events is extremely demanding, and my persistence, stamina and creative solution problem solving skills are notable. I learned to listen to my clients, staff and my instincts. I function well under pressure and am not easily rattled. I can lead or support and know how to engage in lively conversation and agree to disagree if needed. I have learned to be open as I am always learning. Often answers come from the least expected source when I am not expecting anything.
We have new political leadership here in Venice with Mayor Karen Bass and Councilwoman Traci Park. What is your assessment of their progress so far?
I see women in ACTION! This is extremely refreshing and a complete departure from what I experienced with the last Councilmember. The weekly “Your #Better11 Update” newsletter is full of meaningful updates, information and helpful resources of all types. Traci Park introduced herself while canvasing early in her candidacy. I was hosting a garage sale and she stayed and talked with me about local issues and my participation in EVNA (East Venice Neighborhood Association). Since that day, I have spoken with her on multiple occasions and of late about my concerns about the extension of the Road Diet through Venice. When elected I would follow proper protocols and communicate directly or as appropriate supporting those above me to bring about effective action.
Do you believe the VNC can offer meaningful change to stakeholders?
Absolutely! It is my opinion that meaningful change is highly possible if there is a changing of the guard in board leadership. Just like the amazing Alley Bean who I hope to work alongside with (Ally is running for reelection as a At-Large Community Officer), I also support Brian Averill, Jim Robb and Helen Fallon. I believe from their actions and commitment that there will be a welcome shift on the VNC as there has been by Traci Park’s leadership in CD-11. The position of At-Large Community Officer offers the opportunity for exploration and discussion which I believe creates the possibility for meaningful change, especially with the power of casting a vote representing our stakeholder’s desire, not necessarily our own. It is not about what is best just for me, it is about what the community wants or does not want.
What are the issues you will concentrate on should you be successful?
I am committed to taking a stand for all stakeholders to have a user friendly experience with the election process. I care deeply about accessibility to all that are interested in participating in our NC elections. I have experienced firsthand the arduous system we are currently subject. The election ballot request steps are inconsistent and riddled with incomplete information that ultimately discourages participation. I cannot promise that I can “fix” this quickly but I certainly can start the conversation and take strategic actions to start the revamping within guidelines, By- Laws, etc. This includes my support of increasing the number of votes towards Community Officer Candidates which is currently capped at 1 to13 positions. I would be thrilled to participate in that committee as the election issues I am passionate about require this committee to be up and running. An example is that By-Laws may need to be changed to how many votes can be cast for the At-Large Community Officers. Currently, I am engaged in exploring and exposing the intent to continue the “Road Diet” all the way from Overland Avenue down to the beach. My persistent actions along with others has temporarily halted the lower section from being installed, but much more is needed to prevent it from coming to fruition ever awareness is poor in our community as to what the Venice Neighborhood Council is and does. Campaigning has amplified my encounters with so many who have no idea about what the VNC is and how this is a vehicle that they can use to take actions and/or support issues effecting their neighborhoods. I commit to assisting stakeholders and to inspire them to participate in bringing support to the issues that matter most to them.
What is your assessment of Oceanfront Walk and the Venice Pier?
The pier is a missed opportunity in my opinion. I’d love to see it restored, properly lit and utilized in a way that it is a welcoming asset to our beautiful beach. The life guard tower proposed restoration/reinvention as a community meeting area, extra bathrooms, etc. is excellent and I am in full support of seeing a project that welcomes visitors and stakeholders alike realized.
What changes or ideas do you have to bring commerce and tourism back to the beach?
Maintaining the beach facilities is essential. Basics like the bathrooms, lighting, trash clean up, working showers, grooming the beach and sports areas/courts to be available for use and free of trash, debris and any other obstructions make our beautiful beach more inviting and safe. The Venice Car show that included many outside neighborhoods, the Beach Pride Festival that had many activities, basically, all kinds of family friendly events and I notice that more people stay later into the evenings on regular beach days when there are live DJs and the iconic Drum circle and the Silent Disco/Meditation Sunday afternoons too.
Do you believe Venice is safe?
That is a subjective question – I believe anything can happen anywhere. Yes, I feel it was “safer” here 10 years ago, I witnessed far less crime, mentally disturbed and drug impaired people roaming around and homeless persons camping in than I do now. There were police officers that regularly patrolled and stopped by. Now that is a rarity. Our Pacific Division is spread so thin. Their service area is huge and they are understaffed so yes, that impairs response which invites crime. My business is next to a small market/liquor store and lots of events including theft, gang activity, and I’ve interrupted physical assaults, men masturbating, peeing and vomiting on our building, even coming inside of our gated back area. Our store front was sprayed with bullets when an altercation happened with a clerk at the market, thankfully no one was injured, but it was intense. But as I said, everywhere has issues, but they may have a quicker and stronger response.
How has gentrification changed Venice? For better or worse?
Gentrification is horrible here. I have personally been displaced and effected by it and watched as a 4 generational Latino community across the street from me was completely disbanded without proper relocation fees in the blink of an eye.
Is Venice still lovable?
Well this question has me smiling! Yes, my belief is all things are subject to our perspective. I focus on what makes Venice “Venice” – the people.
Everything here exists from someone creating it.
Our eclectic neighborhoods, the colorful, creative people of all ages, walks of life, handymen, artists, mechanics, surfers, skaters, store owners, clerks, waiters, postal workers – shout out to Gloria our “Mail Goddess” – that populate this unique coastal slice of LA. to notice I am the eternal cheerleader – can’t help it!
Nick Antonicello is covering the biannual VNC elections to be held Sunday, March 26th at the Oakwood Recreation Center located at 767 California Boulevard. For more information on the election, e-mail Elections@VeniceNC.org Have a take or a tip on all things Venice? E-mail Antonicello at email@example.com