Thursday, December 11, 2008

El Cerrito’s first Black mayor transitions off City Council

By Kevin L. Nichols

The city on “the little hill” has become a metropolis over the last decade. One major contributor to El Cerrito’s success has been Letitia Moore, its first African American City Council member and mayor. Moore was elected to the City Council for her first term in 2001. Typically, most City Council members in El Cerrito have an opportunity to serve one year as mayor; at the start of her second term in 2004, Moore became mayor. Last Tuesday, Dec. 2, marked the end of her second term, and she is not seeking another term or office at this time.

Moore was born in British Honduras, Belize, which is now known as Belize City. She lived in New York when she first moved to the United States and then moved to and grew up in Los Angeles. She attended Yale University and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1986. Moore then went to UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall to study law and graduated in 1989. She is now the assistant regional counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX.

Along with the visible achievements of new retail storefronts, thriving businesses and restaurants and new school buildings, Moore prides her tenure on more quiescent accomplishments. For example, one of the most difficult tasks the council faced was coming up with a budgetary solution to the city’s road maintenance problem. Financing for the upkeep and creation of new streets, some of which have not been repaired in over 30 years, was regularly diminished due to other line items that took priority. Moore championed a 5-cent sales tax, which was recently approved by voters, to permanently address the road maintenance issue.

Some of her other accomplishments while on the council included overseeing the formation of the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater on San Pablo Avenue and the new City Hall building, also on San Pablo Avenue. Now that her political career is temporarily at halt, Moore plans to dedicate more of her time to the EPA and the American Bar Association’s Environmental Bar — specifically its Diversity Fellowship Program, which provides a $5,000 stipend for law students of color to work with a leading environmental organization during the summer.

According to Moore, since “there is always too much work to do and not enough people to do it,” I am certain that we will be hearing more from her in the months and years to come.

Kevin L. Nichols is an author and the president/CEO of KLN Publishing, located in San Francisco. For more information, visit http://klnpublishingllc.blogspot.com.

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