Some attorneys are focused on why things cannot be done. Kevin James is running for City Attorney to create solutions for L.A.’s toughest challenges. At a time when every neighborhood is affected by the affordable housing and homelessness crises, when the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic have severely hurt the health and livelihood of countless Angelenos, when the City budget is burdened by the pandemic and by multi-million dollar settlements, and when City Hall must restore the public’s trust, we need our City Attorney to be a problem solver who will take strong action on behalf of the people of Los Angeles.
As City Attorney, Kevin will bring to bear his more than 20 years of legal experience as an Assistant US Attorney and litigator at some of California’s most prestigious law firms. He will also draw on his seven-year tenure as President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, where he marshaled five city departments to respond to homelessness, build electric vehicle infrastructure, protect water quality, implement the historic raise to L.A.’s minimum wage, and to provide critical city services uninterrupted throughout the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. For the second half of 2020, Mayor Garcetti asked Kevin to join the Mayor’s Office as the Chief of Legislative Affairs to work on police reform, COVID response funding, labor issues, and homelessness during the pandemic.
Kevin moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s in search of a community willing to accept him — a gay man starting his professional career at the height of the AIDS epidemic. To honor the many friends Kevin lost to AIDS, he soon became a volunteer with the AIDS Project Los Angeles food bank, and eventually joined the Board of Directors including two terms as APLA’s Board Co-Chair.
Kevin was appointed to the Board of Public Works in 2013 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and was confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council. In addition to being re-nominated and re-confirmed in 2017, Kevin was elected seven consecutive times by his colleagues to serve as Board President.
Kevin’s tenure at the Board of Public Works included the deployment of new technologies at each of the departments under its purview to improve the delivery of basic city services, including street repair, street lighting, enforcing our City’s minimum wage laws, conducting the City’s first tree inventory, awarding Green Business Certifications, and modernizing the City’s Public Way Reservation System.
Recognizing Kevin’s leadership, Mayor Garcetti and the City Council expanded the Board of Public Works’ portfolio to include the new City Forest Officer, the re-launched Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and the Office of Film and Television Production, whose work to support entertainment jobs in L.A. was led personally by Kevin. As a member of the City’s Emergency Operations Board, Kevin oversaw the City’s emergency operations and emergency response policy, including late-night response in the field when our city infrastructure was challenged by some of the region’s most dangerous wildfires and heaviest storms in years.
Kevin also served as the City’s liaison to the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission in connection with the City’s bids for sporting events including the NBA All-Star Game, the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, and the U.S. Open Golf Championship.
Kevin is uniquely qualified to serve as the City Attorney of Los Angeles, representing the second largest municipal corporation in America, made up of approximately 40 city departments, including the Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles World Airports, the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, and Public Works to name a few.
During his time in City Hall, Kevin worked directly, extensively, and daily on numerous legal issues, both civil and criminal, related to Public Works, and many other City departments. These issues included illegal dumping, procurement, contract disputes, labor relations, Charter interpretation, ordinance interpretation, emergency declarations and orders, legal discussions between departments, legal discussions between a department and a City Council office, and legal discussions between the City and a contractor. In fact, as President of the Board of Public Works, Kevin often served as a mediator in numerous public hearings on matters between the City and residents and/or Neighborhood Councils and other neighborhood organizations on infrastructure issues, including tree removals, landscape maintenance agreements, graffiti removal contracts, and street closures.
Kevin’s late father was a salesman and his mother is a retired high school math teacher. Growing up in a home that prioritized public education and emphasized community service and hard work, Kevin has been fortunate to have a job since his first newspaper route when he was 14 years old.
Unsurprisingly, Kevin, a long-time resident of Laurel Canyon, is an avid sports fan, and he almost never passes up an opportunity to say hi to a dog being walked in the community.
Kevin is a proud alumnus of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Houston Law Center.