DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - When it comes to Downtown politics in 2012, the biggest story may actually be something that occurs in 2013: the election to determine who will replace termed-out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. While the race will garner loads of attention this year, it's not the only major political happening. The politicking, fundraising and alliance building will take shape in other elections, and Downtown will see a crucial discussion, and perhaps a bitter fight, over its City Council boundaries. Here is what will make news in City Hall in 2012.
Showdown in the First District: Ed Reyes became the First District City Councilman in 2001, representing portions of Northeast L.A. and Pico-Union, and in Downtown he has covered Chinatown and City West, while also focusing on Los Angeles River issues. His longtime chief of staff, Jose Gardea, hopes to maintain that course when Reyes is termed out in 2013. However, state Assemblyman Gil Cedillo also wants the job. The showdown should be fascinating. Expect Cedillo to be painted as a Sacramento carpetbagger chasing a high-paying council gig. Expect Gardea to be slagged as part of the troubled City Hall bureaucracy. Mud will fly.
A Nasty Ninth?: Speaking of termed-out politicians and Sacramento ties, Ninth District rep Jan Perry is out of a job in 2013. While she runs for mayor, the race will be underway for the district that currently holds the majority of Downtown. Perry has yet to publicly support an heir apparent, and many expect several state officeholders to chase the trend of Sacramento types coming to the L.A. Council (think Herb Wesson, Paul Krekorian, etc). Assemblyman Mike Davis launched his campaign in October and others could follow. The question is, who will the influential and affluent Downtown business crowd support?
The Let's-Beat-Up-Carmen Brigade: You know you're a feared frontrunner when people attack you before you enter a race. That's life for Carmen Trutanich, who is widely expected to gun for Steve Cooley's District Attorney chair this November (though officially undeclared, Nuch has already raised more than $500,000 for the race). Other candidates are already running hard: Prosecutor Jackie Lacey has Cooley's endorsement. Another veteran prosecutor, Alan Jackson, not only has proved an able fundraiser, but has slugged Nuch, the current City Attorney, for potentially breaking his 2007 promise to serve two terms in the city job. The moment Nuch jumps in, every candidate will seek to bash him like a piñata. One thing about Trutanich: He'll give as good as he gets.
The Wesson Era: Eric Garcetti served as president of the City Council for six years. Now that he is running for mayor, he's giving up the top dog spot on the panel. Enter Herb Wesson, the 10th District officeholder, former state Assembly Speaker and, interestingly, a combatant of the council's other two African-American members, Jan Perry and Eighth District rep Bernard Parks. Wesson's speech after being elected to the top council spot was heavy on the "we" theme, but observers question how inclusive he'll be when he doles out council committee assignments and other favors. Everyone will learn quickly who counts as a friend of Herb.
Drawing the Lines: The most intense battle in the early part of 2012 will concern redistricting, the once-a-decade chore or drawing the boundaries of the 15 City Council districts so that each has approximately the same number of residents. José Huizar's 14th District needs to grow while Perry's Ninth has to shrink, and the big question for Downtown is whether Huizar will try to swallow affluent neighborhoods such as the Financial District and South Park. Perry beat back a land grab in 2002, but she's nearing the end of her term and might lack the juice for a similar fight. Making matters interesting is that the executive director of the redistricting panel is Andrew Westall - a former top aide to Wesson.
©Los Angeles Downtown News.