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L.A. mayoral candidates heap praise on Zev Yaroslavsky

August 23, 2012 |  9:02 am

Yaroslavsky at Hollywood Bowl
L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's decision Thursday to stay out of next year's L.A. mayor's race was good news to the candidates already involved, including three City Hall politicians who have been running since last year.

The mayoral candidates, each of whom would benefit greatly from a Yaroslavsky endorsement, quickly lavished praise on the veteran politician, who announced Thursday he was turning the race over to "the next generation."

City Controller Wendy Greuel, who has been running for mayor for nearly a year and a half, quickly praised Yaroslavsky as an "iconic and transformational leader," comparing him to former Mayor Tom Bradley, her ex-boss. Greuel said she would seek his "wise counsel and advice" as he serves the remainder of his term, which ends in 2014.

"Whether it was protecting our oceans and beaches from offshore drilling, preserving open space, tackling homelessness or expanding and improving our transportation system, Zev has always put policy above politics to deliver results," she said in a statement.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who also has been running since March 2011, praised Yaroslavsky for having an "independent voice" and said he had placed a strong emphasis on fiscal responsibility. She said she would seek his endorsement and planned to show voters that she is best qualified to fill the role of financial watchdog in the campaign.

"That has been my role since taking office," she said.

Councilman Eric Garcetti called Yaroslavsky, who has been in office 37 years, a distinguished statesman who had “led with intellect, creativity and determination.”

“I have always admired his work to tackle our toughest challenges -- like homelessness, transportation and making L.A. a more livable city -- and it has been an honor to call him a colleague and friend,” the councilman said in an email.

Yaroslavsky said on his website that he is leaving the March contest to "a new generation of leaders" and had concluded that nearly 40 years in office would be "long enough." Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa must step aside in June 2013 due to term limits.

John Thomas, spokesman for mayoral candidate Kevin James, was somewhat more muted in his response, saying the former radio host is “appreciative of Zev’s service.”

“We couldn’t agree with the supervisor more that Los Angeles deserves a new generation of leadership,” Thomas said. “But Kevin James also believes that Los Angeles deserves a new kind of leadership -- a new kind of leader with a different kind of thinking.”

Of the mayoral contenders, Greuel will probably benefit the most from Yaroslavsky's decision, said Tom Hogen-Esch, political science professor at Cal State Northridge. Greuel, like Yaroslavsky, is a moderate Democrat with strong ties to the San Fernando Valley, he said.

“I think the race may have slightly tilted in her favor,” Hogen-Esch added.

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-- David Zahniser

twitter/davidzahniser

Photo: L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 19. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.

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