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In Westside council race, it's insider versus outsider

May 17, 2009 |  8:51 am

The hotly contested race to replace Los Angeles Councilman Jack Weiss in a Westside-to-Encino district could be summed up in three words: insider versus outsider.

An array of City Hall players have lined up behind former State Assemblyman Paul Koretz as he seeks the edge over neighborhood council member David T. Vahedi in Tuesday's election for the 5th District.

Eleven of 15 council members have endorsed Koretz. Veteran lobbyist Harvey Englander opened his home for a fundraiser. And the Department of Water and Power's employee union spent nearly $20,000 on Koretz's behalf.

Koretz, 54, described such support as a vote of confidence for his years of experience. But Vahedi hopes to turn those backers into a liability by warning that Koretz will fit in comfortably with a council that has approved lucrative settlements with billboard companies, signed off on an ill-fated solar energy plan and confronts a $530-million budget shortfall.

"If you believe that the city's going in the right direction, then I think you should support the candidate that the majority of the City Hall establishment supports, which is Paul Koretz," he said.

--David Zahniser