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Youthful exuberance

Ferguson rises to chairman of recreation board just a few years out of high school.

June 28, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago, christopher.cadelago@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Leader )

At 21, Steven Ferguson has had his share of firsts: youngest commissioner in the city's 99-year history, youngest City Council candidate to garner 1,000 votes, and now, youngest chairman of the Park, Recreation and Community Services Board.

Still, the significance is not lost on Ferguson, the second-highest vote-getter in this month's best-of-seven race for the 43rd District Democratic Central Committee.

"Technically, the chairmanship is ceremonial, but it also serves as an important symbol for the community of who is representing the park board, park issues to the community and park issues to the council," said Ferguson, whose involvement stretches back to elementary school.

His top priorities as chairman include raising the board's profile through town hall meetings and placing a greater significance on celebrating those who donate their time giving back to the community.

A graduate of Burbank High School, Ferguson has not shied away from tough issues. Last year, he spearheaded an effort to maintain a dedicated park patrol officer after budget cutting prompted the Police Department to scale back funding for the program.

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"I know we have issues with budget cuts, but safety is nonnegotiable," he said.

The City Council last month moved to exhaust a federal grant and then fund the position through the rest of 2010-11 using one-time funding. The grant was supposed to last through May 2011.

Ferguson said he hoped that a new structure promised by Police Chief Scott LaChasse — including the possibility of using retired police to monitor illicit behavior and secure buildings and gates — would be implemented at the start of next financial year.

Ferguson last year mounted an unsuccessful campaign for council, bowing out in the primary before working on campaigns for Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Kerkorian and 43rd Assembly District candidate Nayiri Nahabedian, of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education.

Among his other accomplishments, Ferguson was one of the youngest delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008. A staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton, he served as Associated Students of Glendale Community College president and student trustee of the community college district.

Before that he joined the Burbank Mayor's Youth Task Force while enrolled at Muir Middle School, and signed on for Youth for Youth, which sought to identify problems facing teenagers and recommend solutions.

Along the way he's advocated for youth counseling programs through the school district and Family Service Agency of Burbank, and logged hundreds of hours volunteering for various nonprofit organizations.

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