Council president Eric Garcetti says he will run for L.A. mayor
Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti said Thursday he will be a candidate to replace outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the 2013 election, promising to provide "leadership that brings people together."
Garcetti, 40, is the third elected official at City Hall to take the plunge, following in the steps of City Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilwoman Jan Perry. Fluent in Spanish, he is also the highest-profile Latino in the race, since his father -- former Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti -- is of Mexican descent.
Unlike some of his rivals, Garcetti said there was nothing exploratory about his decision to form a mayoral campaign committee. "I'm running for mayor to get L.A. and our economy back on track. I'll bring focused leadership based on experience, practical know-how, and a willingness to embrace innovation," he said in a statement.
Because of term limits, Villaraigosa must leave office in June 2013.
Also in the running are former Villaraigosa "jobs czar" Austin Beutner, who opened an exploratory committee last spring, and radio host Kevin James. Political experts believe County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who spent nearly two decades on the City Council, will be the next one to jump into the contest.
"Do I think he's getting in? I think he's absolutely, unequivocally getting in," said Rick Taylor, a political consultant who has advised Yaroslavsky on various campaigns, including a 2002 ballot measure to provide funding for trauma centers.
Garcetti will be a formidable candidate, someone with name recognition and a decade representing the "most diverse district" in the city, said Raphael Sonenshein, political science professor at Cal State Fullerton.
That district takes in such neighborhoods as Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Historic Filipinotown, Atwater Village and Glassell Park, areas that have seen intense redevelopment and gentrification since 2001, the year Garcetti took office.
[Updated at 9:05 a.m.: "It's a conglomeration of people of all different kinds of walks of life -- it's racially diverse, it's economically diverse. It's also one of the most progressive districts in the city right now," Sonenshein said. "It's a cutting-edge part of the city -- and you know, politically, it's both good and bad to be part of the cutting edge."
Garcetti became council president in 2005. While in office, he developed an image as an up-and-coming progressive Democrat, becoming an early endorser of Barack Obama's presidential campaign and opening up his Echo Park home in 2010 for a spread in Dwell Magazine -- a feature that highlighted the house's environmentally friendly features.
Now a resident of Silver Lake, Garcetti spearheaded such programs as UNTAG, or Uniting Neighborhoods to Abolish Graffiti, which relied on volunteers to identify and report tagging throughout his district.
He pushed for environmentally friendly measures, including passage of Proposition O, a $500-million water cleanup bond measure approved in 2004, and an ordinance requiring "green" building standards for projects of more than 50,000 square feet.
He was also at odds with Villaraigosa last year over a plan to seek four electricity rate hikes ranging from 9% to 28%, increases that were needed, in part, to pay for renewable energy initiatives. During that debate, and on other issues, Garcetti's critics said they found it difficult to determine where he stood -- and questioned whether he was waiting to see which side of a controversy had the eight votes.
Before his election, Garcetti taught public policy, diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College and USC. He is also a jazz pianist and composer, according to his website.
Garcetti formed a committee Thursday to raise money for the upcoming campaign.]
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: Eric Garcetti. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times