PALMDALE — Having battled back from an advanced cancer diagnosis and a stroke, Councilmember Laura Bettencourt, on Wednesday, announced her plans to run for re-election in District 3, in November.
“My cancer is in remission. I’ve recovered pretty well from my stroke; my balance is a little off, but other than that, I’m doing really well,” she said, gathered with supporters in front of City Hall. “Not only will I finish this term, but I plan to finish the next four-year term, if I’m re-elected.”
In August, Bettencourt announced she had been diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer, but that she intended to continue serving on the Council during treatment.
Stage 4 cancer means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body; it is also called metastatic cancer. In Bettencourt’s case, cancer was found in her lymph nodes, organs, bones and spine, she said at the time.
While undergoing treatment, Bettencourt reported she had a stroke.
“I honestly did not know if I was going to be able to finish my term because my health was very bad,” she said, on Wednesday. “I want to thank all of my doctors, my medical team with the City of Hope, with AV Cancer Center and with Kaiser Palliative Care; all helped me have a miraculous recovery.”
Her health issues behind her, Bettencourt said she is seeking to continue to represent District 3 to provide some consistency and stability in a time of upheaval.
“I see the city in a big flux right now and I want to make sure that we keep focused on our projects that we started,” she said. “I want to make sure we have someone who is still steering our city in the right direction.”
“I think we need stability on the Council right now.”
The Council format was changed, earlier this year, from four districts and a mayor elected at-large to five districts, with the mayor’s seat rotating among Council members.
Bettencourt said, should she be elected to another term, she is not interested in taking a turn in the mayor’s seat.
“Right now, I’m perfectly happy being a councilperson,” she said. “I love District 3; it’s always been my District. I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the residents. I’m very happy to be there. So I’m content being a councilperson for District 3.”
Public safety remains a focus for Bettencourt, who works as a crime analyst for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
She said she wants to continue efforts to reduce crime and graffiti and to make sure “not just District 3 is safe and clean, but the entire city, so that you can go to any park in the city and it will be a safe and clean place to spend with your families.”
Street improvements, such as those completed on Avenue S and beginning on Avenue R, are a priority, Bettencourt said, noting she worked to move up improvements to neglected streets within District 3.
She also voiced support for the ongoing effort to develop a regional recreation center in Palmdale, a joint project with the City of Lancaster.
“We need a rec center here. We need something for all of the youth and the adults, not just the kids,” she said.
Other projects she would like to see through are a conference center, development of a Palmdale airport and proposed high-speed rail to Las Vegas.
Supporters with Bettencourt at her announcement cited her experience and leadership as reasons she should be elected to another term.
“She has proven leadership on the City Council. She is a person of integrity, honesty and dependability,” former Council member Fred Thompson said.
“With all she’s seen through, she still makes time for her city,” former Palmdale School District Board President Sandy Corrales said. “Now more than ever we need that experience to work for us.”
Bettencourt was first elected to the City Council, in May 2009, and re-elected three times since, most recently, in November 2018. She is a crime and intelligence analyst for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a position she has held for 22 years. She has also worked as an adjunct instructor at Antelope Valley College, teaching criminal justice courses, for 20 years.
Prior to joining the Sheriff’s Department, she worked for Northrop Grumman on the B-2 stealth bomber.