Yaroslavsky says he's still undecided on L.A. mayoral run
Nine days into the new year, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky continued his will-he-or-won’t-he dance, declining to tell a downtown lunchtime audience whether he will run for mayor in 2013.
Appearing at the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum, Yaroslavsky was coy -– as he was throughout 2011 -- when asked whether he wants the job currently held by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is in his final four-year term. He was less shy, however, on his views of L.A. city government.
On the city budget, Yaroslavsky voiced dismay about a recent Los Angeles Times story that found that Villaraigosa and the council have balanced the books, in part, by postponing key payments of public employee overtime pay, unused sick pay and salary increases. “The big balloon payment is going to come due” when the next mayor takes office, said Yaroslavsky, who has held city or county office since 1975.
On road repairs, Yaroslavsky questioned the wisdom of a proposal floated last year by Villaraigosa to spend 27 years of road repair money within 24 months. He also said that streets in unincorporated county neighborhoods are in far better shape than their counterparts in the city of Los Angeles.
“When you go to East Los Angeles, the unincorporated part of East L.A. … you can actually drive your car without risking ripping your U-shaft apart. When you come to Boyle Heights, you know exactly when you’ve crossed the city line. It’s the grand canyon. This is the way it is all over town.”
Yaroslavsky also said that unlike the city, the county has not had to rely on furloughs or layoffs to solve its budget problems. Those unflattering comparisons might be connected to the fact that four big names in the mayoral race so far -– City Controller Wendy Greuel, former First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner and council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry -– all worked in city government at some point in the last five years.
Yet Yaroslavsky did not sound at all ready to join the field of contenders.
“I’ve been at this for 37 years. There are other things I have wanted to do with my life,” he told the room full of lobbyists, labor officials and city employees. “And if I want to do those things, I’ve got to do them in the next 10 years or I’m not going to do them. That’s the decision that I’m wrestling with. And I’m coming to closure on it.”
The Times asked Yaroslavsky to name those other, competing interests. His answer was the same as on the 2013 election: Stay tuned.
--David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times