Yes Los Angeles, or at least the 16% of you who care, the runoff election is
May 21st and that's when we'll really elect our Mayor, among other offices.
I mention sixteen percent because out of
the 1,812,665 people registered to vote in the city of Los Angeles, only
16% of us bothered to vote.
That means that 1,524,347 of you left the
decision on whether or not you'll be paying a higher sales tax, among
other pretty important things, to 16% of us.
Hoping to ask what she thought about Measure A,
I asked a woman yesterday about the election. "I'm not up on current
affairs, she replied. "No time."
No time? No time? Her entire car was
painted with the name of a sports team. Every window shouted out she was their
#1 fan. She had time to do that, in very nice block printing by the way, but
she didn't have time to vote?
Wow and incredible
I've been to third world countries; cities with
no internet, that had higher turnouts and a more engaged population.
It took me less than 5 minutes to vote and chat with the lovely
senior citizens who even offered me a nice chocolate chip cookie for my time.
(See, doing your civic duty does pay!)
Come May 21st, we get another chance; a sort of
electoral do-over. A chance to raise the bar; a chance to change LA.
And if the 1,524,347 of you who were
invited yesterday but didn't attend, actually show up this time, the chocolate
chip cookies are on me*.
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - After surviving Tuesday's mayoral primary election, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel wasted no time today getting back on the campaign trail, with Garcetti thanking and rallying supporters in Atwater Village and Greuel picking up a key union endorsement.
As expected, Garcetti and Greuel -- who led all their opponents in fundraising -- topped the eight-candidate field in Tuesday's primary to advance to a May 21 runoff election in their race to replace Antonio Villaraigosa.
Councilwoman Jan Perry was a distant third in the race, followed by businessman Kevin James.
Garcetti, the top vote-getter in the primary, held a rally at the Van de Kamp Job Training Center in Atwater Village, thanking his supporters and urging them to continue their push to the runoff. He also took a shot at Greuel, insinuating she would be a mayor beholden to her major campaign backers -- unions.
"This city has a choice to make," he said. "It's a choice between a mayor's office that's bought and paid for by power brokers and the DWP union, or a mayor's office that's truly of the people, by the people and for the people of Los Angeles."
Greuel another union endorsement today, from the Service Employees International Union Local 721, one of the city's most influential employee labor groups. Union officials, who did not endorse a mayoral candidate prior to Tuesday's primary, said Greuel has always "kept her door open" and understands how to partner with city employees to tackle the city's budget problems.
"She knows that members of SEIU 721 and the Coalition of LA City Unions kept this city running during the last budget crisis by agreeing to a savings package, which included real pension reform that saved the city $850 million," SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover said.
He added that Greuel was receptive to their idea of staffing police department desk jobs with civilians in order to "get more cops on the streets."
Another SEIU local, the United Long Term Care Workers, also threw its backing behind Greuel.
Greuel took some heat in the primary campaign for her close ties with -- and financial backing from -- unions such as the IBEW Local 18, which represents Department of Water and Power workers, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the police union. A recent tally put union contributions to a super PAC supporting Greuel's campaign at $2.5 million.
A campaign promise by Greuel to increase police ranks by 2,000 officers was slammed by her opponents as unreasonable, if not suspect, given the city's budget and the types of groups funding her campaign.
Greuel, 51, tried to counter the perception she would bow to union pressure by promising not to raise salaries for DWP workers if the city still faces a deficit next year.
Greuel, who would become the city's first female mayor if elected, also took a shot at Garcetti today after touring an eco-friendly fountain-design company.
"My opponent would suggest there isn't any waste in Los Angeles, and there's nothing we can do to get back some money as we go forward that could go for the kind of services for police and fire and all the other services that we provide to the residents of Los Angeles," she said. "I know there is."
At his election-night party in Hollywood, Garcetti, 42, rallied his supporters by echoing a theme of his campaign -- job creation and development in his 13th District. He also touted his "record of real pension reform, of responsible budget cutting, of getting ourselves through tough times so that we could protect core services that people depend on in our
"It's why this district is ranked number one by the Chamber of Commerce in job growth in the midst of a recession," he said. "I'd like to say we accomplished this because of great leadership, but we didn't, at least not in the singular sense. We did it because leadership, we understood, doesn't just exist up here at a podium. But it's out there on the streets. It's every block and every street and every neighborhood in this city that is waiting to be unleashed. The creativity and the genius that is Los Angeles, we will bring back, and that's what I'm going to do as the next mayor of Los Angeles."
The city's looming $200 million-plus budget deficit in the upcoming year is arguably the most pressing issue on tap for L.A.'s next chief executive. Along with ballooning pension costs, the future mayor will be faced with a shortage of funds that could jeopardize critical services in years to come.
During the campaign, Greuel, a former councilwoman, boasted experience in both the public and private sphere, having spent five years as an executive at animation company DreamWorks.
She was noted for declaring, with some dispute from opponents, that as city controller she dug up $160 million in "waste, fraud and abuse."
Garcetti, a native of Silver Lake, ran a campaign that sporadically took advantage of his show biz connections, whether it was getting an endorsement from comedian Will Ferrell or accompanying electronic music D.J. Moby on the keyboard at a fundraiser. He will continue that theme tonight when he takes part in a question-and-answer session with comedian D.L. Hughley.
Garcetti, 42, comes with an Ivy League resume that includes undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University and a year studying as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, and later the London School of Economics. He is also noted for having traveled to 80 countries, including on charity and relief missions.
Garcetti has had to counter claims that he helped contribute to the budget deficit by voting to raise salaries for public safety and other city employees.
During the campaign, Garcetti touted his role in the redevelopment of once-blighted areas of Hollywood, as well as his record on environmentally friendly policy-making -- such as solar-energy initiatives -- and his endorsement by the Sierra Club.
Unlike Greuel, Garcetti swore off independent contributions throughout much of his campaign, and as a result trailed in spending power. A PAC supporting Garcetti was recently formed, not for the primary election, but for the May 21 general election.