Juan Garza is the current Mayor of Bellflower, President of the Los Angeles County Division of the League of California Cities, and has over 25 years of local government experience. He also has recently launched his own public affairs firm, Six Heron. We sat down with him to ask a few questions on his time in the local government circuit, as well as what his hopes are for his new firm.
What inspired you to get so involved in local government issues?
The fact that local government is the crossroads of everything that can happen in our daily lives. I’ve always had a desire to inspire my sons and others to positively contribute to and serve the public, in order to ensure an overall good, positive and effective society. Local government is one of those few spaces that touches everyone, every day.
What lessons have you learned from your experience in local government
Collaboration and communication is key and can solve most problems when conducted objectively, openly and patiently.
How does your viewpoint change sitting both on the dais and from a public affairs consulting perspective?
I have a greater appreciation for how complicated and multi-faceted public policy is, as well as an appreciation for how much effort both roles take to create positive outcomes. Having experienced both very intimately gives me a greater degree of sensitivity and ability to better serve both the public and clients.
Why did you launch your own firm, Six Heron?
It’s been something that I’ve thought about doing since growing up watching my father become a successful businessman. Like my father, I love being able to help others with reliable and quality service, while simultaneously earning their trust and business. While reflecting lately and evaluating opportunities, I noticed this was an ideal time to offer my experience, passion and integrity to clients I had not been able to reach and service in my prior employment.
Why that name?
It’s pretty unique, isn’t it? My last name in English translates to ‘heron,’ and the ‘six’ represents the six members in my family. I found it to be a name that would both remind me and inspire me as to why I actually developed this firm.
What does the firm do and who do you expect to be your clients?
It provides a multitude of services ranging from government relations, public relations, media relations, regulatory relations and community relations throughout Southern California and the whole state. Potential clients of mine would be all type businesses and organizations, including land use and real estate interests, in need of government assistance that I can help by connecting them with solutions and saving them time.
What do you see as the critical issues facing cities these days and why?
There are many, but I would say homelessness and the lack of proven solutions to it, the increasing strain revenue sources to provide services to our residents and an encroaching state government upon local government and local communities that has limited knowledge of local communities and issues. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all of us to be fully and objectively informed on all issues, listen and maintain an open mind, become aware of how much government decisions affect our daily lives and accept innovation in order to be resilient in our fast-changing world of today and tomorrow.