Sam Yebri came to the west side of Los Angeles with his family as a refugee from Iran 40 years ago, and through decades of hard work and dedication, he hopes to now represent the place that allowed his family to live the “American Dream”—Council District 5.
There are three critical topics on voters' minds right now: homelessness, housing and public safety. These form the foundation of Yebri’s campaign; and why the Current is endorsing him.
"Exploding homelessness and a rising lack of affordable housing have become dire crises. Our neighborhoods grow less and less safe each day. Our streets and sidewalks are crumbling, city services are being cut amid skyrocketing deficits, small businesses are shuttering, and economic and racial inequality worsens."
Council District 5 encompasses communities from Westwood to Bel Air and includes Palms, Pico-Robertson, Greater Wilshire and Mid-City West.
"I'm running because of the city that I love. My family was blessed to find an affordable one-bedroom apartment—now a rarity, which is unacceptable. This warm community enabled my family to live the American Dream.”
Yebri credits local public schools for providing him with a launch pad to Yale University, USC Law School and a federal clerkship that solidified his commitment to public service.
"I want a Los Angeles that we can be proud of again. This seat is critical because of the opportunities the Fifth District has over the next half-dozen years."
Public service has been a priority for Yebri for several decades. He has served as a board member of ten different community nonprofits. He has also served the City on the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission, the City Attorney's Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang's transition team.
His public service, Yebri says, differentiates him from his opponent. “I come to the table with far more experience than the average layperson and far more experience than my opponent, who has no background in public safety."
In 2018, Yebri attended LAPD’s Citizens Academy, an 11-week program designed to engage citizen leaders like him who chair neighborhood public safety committees.
“I've pledged to rebuild our depleted police force back to 10,000 officers from the 9,200 officers we currently have,” says Yebri . “I've promised to hire more female officers. I pledge to advocate for more mental health professionals to deal with mental illness, but not at the expense of our police budget or police officers."
In contrast, Yebri emphasizes that his opponent has said that she would like an audit and will think about perhaps leaving how many officers we have up to the next mayor.
Yebri says he also strongly supports the enforcement of the City’s anti-camping law. "We need to help people suffering on the streets and protect neighborhoods, schools, libraries and parks."
"My opponent has told the LA Times and progressive clubs and student groups that she will not use LAMC 41.18 (anti camping law). That's a real difference between the two of us. "
"As a father of four young kids, I don't feel safe allowing my kids to ride their bikes in our neighborhood anymore. We don't feel safe in our local parks and libraries."
Investing in programs that deter and prevent crime is also a priority for Yebri.
"We need to invest in technology like drones, license-plate readers, cameras and neighborhood watch programs. We also need emergency preparedness initiatives and proven crime interference programs like job training and afterschool programs that address the root causes of crime."
Small Business and Transportation
Yebri says that devoting attention to small businesses is also a top priority. "As our small businesses struggle to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, not one of our current City Council members has ever started and run a business. If elected, I would bring the unique combination of business, nonprofit and civic experience that our City Council sorely lacks."
Yebri built a law firm in Century City where he fights daily for exploited workers as a workers' rights attorney. "I have taken on major corporations, advocated for the rights of workers, tenants, and refugees, and advised startups and small businesses," he notes.
He also co-founded 30 Years After, a local nonprofit that engages thousands of immigrants and first-generation Americans in civic life.
Yebri would be the first Iranian-American, Middle Easterner and refugee ever elected to office in the City of Los Angeles, and would be the first person of color ever elected to represent the Fifth District.