L.A. mayoral candidates skip Super Bowl halftime, talk education
Fans of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers may have been on edge during the Super Bowl, but Los Angeles’ mayoral candidates took a break Sunday from the acrimony that has marked their race in recent days.
Instead, the candidates took part in an education forum, skipping the halftime show to discuss their plans as mayor to help the city’s beleaguered schools.
“I think what’s important today is not to dwell on how bad it is, but rather I would dwell on how good it could be, and that’s where I want to start the discussion,” said Dr. Gary Gitnick, who moderated the event in a tent in the backyard of his Encino manse. “In our discussion, no one’s going to make any political statements. There will be no speeches.”
Gitnick and his wife have hosted such gatherings for nearly three decades, attracting movers and shakers in political and education circles. Sunday’s gathering was no different, drawing former Gov. Gray Davis, state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky and several city and school board officials.
Despite his instructions, the candidates largely stuck with well-worn scripts from the campaign trail. Controller Wendy Greuel highlighted her son, a fourth-grader who attends a public school, and the importance of local control, adequate school funding and accountability.
City Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry noted that they have worked to make schools in their districts hubs for the local community. And attorney Kevin James spotlighted a successful work-study partnership between a South Los Angeles private school and businesses as a model that could be replicated across the city.
The truce during Sunday’s halftime show was likely to last as long as Beyonce’s performance. The candidates will have plenty of opportunities to scrap this week, including a Monday forum in Los Feliz, a Tuesday debate at Loyola Marymount, a Wednesday face-off in Pasadena, a Thursday debate in Northridge and a Friday luncheon in downtown Los Angeles.
-- Seema Mehta