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L.A. City Council candidates Essel and Krekorian reflect on mayor at debate

November 30, 2009 |  9:42 pm

The days may be dwindling in the runoff race for the vacant seat of former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, but one thing is clear -- neither candidate is looking for a last-minute campaign boost from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

During a debate Monday night at Valley College, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D-Los Angeles) and his rival, Christine Essel, a former Paramount Pictures Corp. executive, both dodged a question about whether they would vote for Villaraigosa if he were running for another office.

And Essel hastened to dispel rumors that Villaraigosa is planning to endorse her before the Dec. 8 runoff for a seat representing residents of the San Fernando Valley, where the mayor had a weak showing in his March re-election campaign. “I don’t know exactly who is creating [the rumors], but it isn’t anybody in my camp,” Essel told an audience of more than 100. “The mayor is not endorsing anybody in this race and he is not helping me with my race.”

Both Krekorian and Essel said they were pleased that Villaraigosa decided to finish his second term in Los Angeles instead of beginning a gubernatorial campaign earlier this year.

“He came in with a lot of promise, I think all of us felt that, and there’s been some inaction there,” Essel said. “My preference would be to see him actually do something in this city that provides a legacy.”

Krekorian said the city is “facing too many crises right now to have the captain of the ship running off to run for another office” and added that “there have been a lot of disappointments in the mayor’s leadership of the city.”

“He came in with incredible promise -- gave one of the great speeches I think that I heard when he was inaugurated,” Krekorian said. “And we all know in many ways his administration has fallen significantly short of that, I think in large measure because he has been looking outside of the city to other things.”

Both candidates have looked to their potential City Council colleagues for endorsements. Councilmen Richard Alarcon and Paul Koretz threw their support behind Krekorian. Essel was endorsed by Councilmembers Janice Hahn, Jose Huizar, Tom LaBonge, Jan Perry, Bill Rosendahl, Greig Smith, Herb Wesson and Dennis Zine.

-- Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall