Local Politics: The LA Mayor’s Race
We are voting for LA’s Mayor on Tuesday. Find your polling place here.
My daughter couldn’t wait to show us the YouTube video they discussed in her AP US History class last week. “It’s hilarious,” she said.
You know what’s not hilarious? We’re having an election in Los Angeles next week, and this guy is the Republican candidate for Mayor.
My understanding is that this municipal election will feature a non-partisan ballot; there are no party “tickets,” just a long list of candidates. Kevin James is the lone Republican on the ballot. There is also a Socialist and four or five Democrats (I’m not sure of the political affiliation of at least one of the candidates).
I’m not too worried about Kevin James winning the election, although I would feel a lot better about that if he’d acted like this at the one debate I attended. Instead, he came across as funny and only moderately conservative (even if I had a hard time making sense of some of his answers to questions about the environment). That makes sense when you are running in a city that skews blue. And when you read the positions of the candidates side by side in this terrific interactive tool published by the Los Angeles Times — there isn’t a whole lot of difference between all the candidates’ positions. Even those of Kevin James.
They all want to fix our city’s fiscal problems, our transportation issues, grow our tax base by eliminating excess taxes, and get rid of the massive red tape you encounter whenever you try to get anything done here. They all claim to support public education. No one is advocating the issues that make me see red, like teaching creationism or revoking Obamacare.
So when you’re facing a slate of candidates whose stated views are all pretty similar to your own — and without a lot of polarizing issues between them — how does one choose?
Unfortunately, I tend to focus on superficial qualities. I confess that if I’m given a choice between a male and a female Democratic candidate, I have always gravitated toward the female. For the last couple of years, my involvement with the MOMocrats has led me to associations with groups dedicated to electing more women to office, like EMILY’s List and Women’s Campaign Forum. I spent much of last year working on a project we call Run, Mama Run – which consisted of an interactive map showing female candidates in races all over the country.
In this year’s race for Mayor of Los Angeles, there are TWO highly qualified female candidates in contention: City Councilwoman Jan Perry and City Controller (and former Councilwoman) Wendy Gruel. So which one did I decide to support?
Neither. I’ve decided to endorse Eric Garcetti. And not all the reasons are superficial (although some are).
Let’s start with those:
Garcetti’s campaign actually did some blogger reach-out over the summer, and I had an opportunity to chat with the candidate one-on-one over a fabulous lunch at the late, lamented Campanile. He impressed me with his understanding of the problems we face in this city (he should – he was President of the City Council) and his vision for fixing them. I learned that he was a Rhodes scholar and a professor at Occidental College (teaching diplomacy and world affairs) before embarking on his political career.
Most important: He really listened to my concerns, and even followed up with me by email after reading my post about it.
When I posted photos from the meeting to Facebook, I received comments from other political folk I know — all fans. “He’s the real deal,” one of them told me.
A political campaign is not all that different from marketing a product: a testimonial from someone you trust counts more than any 30-second ad.
What really put me over the top for Garcetti was learning that he was the candidate endorsed by NOW (over the two female candidates). The reason is his support of CEDAW, the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Garcetti is on the record as a supporter, and has vowed to implement the treaty in Los Angeles if elected.
I can’t find any mention of women’s issues in connection with the female candidates. Perhaps because they are women, they don’t feel the need to speak out on that?
At any rate: I’ve made my decision. I’ve made my endorsement public. I’ve even placed a sign on my lawn.
Now let’s hope I remember to vote on Tuesday!