Hermosa Beach Council candidate Jackson wants more nimble city government
by Dan Blackburn
“We’re a small city,” said Hermosa Beach council candidate Raymond Jackson this week, “and one would think we’d be more nimble in our ability to get things done. It’s a source of frustration for residents and business owners, alike.”
Jackson said he wants “to try and help the city figure out where the choke points are, and achieve more efficiencies. I can help in that endeavor.”
It’s the first time he’s tossed his hat into any political ring, and he is not particularly partial to talking about himself. But he said he figures his “complex and varied skill set” is an asset he can offer to local voters.
Jackson is one of five candidates seeking a single seat on the council. An ongoing, all-mail-in election is occurring and will culminate May 11.
Jackson spent more than 30 years in an Army uniform, retiring in 2015 with the rank of colonel. His military career, starting as an 18-year-old combat medic, evolving into a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer, and finally as an aide to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs at the Pentagon, is unique preparation, he believes, for a seat on the city council.
“I’m running for the same reason one joins the military, the same reason one gets involved in civic activities,” he said. “It’s that you want to give back in whatever capacity you can — something I’ve been doing all my life.”
In preparation for his council run, Jackson noted his “extensive record of attending city meetings, chamber meetings, Parks and Recreation meetings… and I have a good finger on the pulse of what is going on. You get motivated, you get inspired.”
When Jackson retired from the military and moved his family to Hermosa Beach, he decided to take a year off “and get used to being a full-time parent again. So during the year I started coaching youth sports, and got involved in the school, doing stuff as it was needed. And then I realized I was working full time again.”
Jackson’s past is filled with a rich variety of endeavors: “I’ve done labor law, contract law, I was a contract officer at the Pentagon. And a lot of it mirrors what I would be doing if I am fortunate enough to be elected to the council. It really is really just dealing with complex issues. I’ve got the skill for learning what’s best for the city, to peel back the onion and identify those issues. I just want to do what I can to help. This is an opportunity for me to bring my unique skill set and perspective to a city that has not seen anyone with my skill set in City Hall.”
Jackson is a first-generation American; his Jamaican father and Dutch mom moved to this country when their marriage was illegal in 16 states.
“They came as immigrants and worked their way into the American dream. The family lived a quiet middle-class life,” he said. He learned from his father “to not be afraid of who you are or to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty. My mother taught me to “never let your circumstances dictate who you are. You have to laugh and enjoy life because you might not see tomorrow.”
Jackson said he loved his time as a medic in the Army. “I was ‘Doc’ when I was with the boys . It’s very satisfying. I was EMT certified my last couple of years. I ran the emergency room, and it was a great great experience.”
It was then that Jackson veered away from medicine and embraced the law.
When he left the Army in 1985, he was offered an ROTC scholarship and finished college, then enrolled in the University of Florida’s law school.
“At first I wanted to make a lot of money, but then I decided I wanted to be with something larger than myself.” He reentered in the Army as an officer and was assigned to the JAG corps.
“I worked with some amazing people and was doing some very cool things, traveling all around the world. In his three decades in uniform, he was assigned to a variety of locales, including Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Korea, Senegal and Bulgaria.
Jackson’s wife Rachel is a retired Air Force veteran with 25 years service who is now a law professor at Southwestern School of Law.
“She’s the real brains and the rock star of the family,” he said. And his two sons, 11 and 9, “are going to keep my old butt young, that’s for sure.”
Jackson stressed his ability “to get things done within a bureaucracy. For Hermosa, we must be more efficient. There are things we can do to be more responsible to the city’s needs. I will work hard for the city regardless of the outcome of this election. This has inspired me, and I’ll be a better resident as a result of this.” ER
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