DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - For those who enjoy local politics, there is no time like the present. With the fiscal cliff averted in Washington, D.C., and the calendar turned, all eyes are on Los Angeles.
In 2013, Angenelos will be captivated by a series of major changes and battles. Although the mayor’s race is the most notable event, it is neither the only nor the most interesting upcoming election (the battle for city attorney is far more exciting). Below are the year’s most intriguing races and political happenings.
Fisticuffs in the First: The race to replace soon-to-be-termed-out First District Councilman Ed Reyes is fascinating. It pits Jose Gardea, his longtime chief deputy and a man who has spent decades working in the district, against Gil Cedillo, the former state senator and assemblyman who first won a Sacramento seat in 1998. Cash is already pouring into the race, with Gardea following the path trod by Reyes and Cedillo trawling the waters of those who have done business in the state capitol. The contest for the district that includes Chinatown and City West could come down to who knocks on the most doors. As a bonus, the election mashes together a couple bigwig campaign consultants: Cedillo has John Shallman, while Gardea is teaming with Parke Skelton.
Ninth District Battle Royale: Who will replace Jan Perry in the district that includes the L.A. Live campus and the Figueroa Corridor? Good luck figuring it out, as at least five folks have a legitimate shot at the runoff. LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara is the big fundraising leader to date, but some question whether a Japanese American can win the heavily Latino and African American district. Ana Cubas, the former chief of staff to José Huizar, is angling for the women and Latino blocs, but like others in the race she recently moved into the Ninth and is susceptible to charges of carpetbagging. Ex-USC government relations worker David Roberts has a deep history in the area and claims key endorsements including Downtown’s Central City Association, but he, former state Assemblyman Mike Davis and state Sen. Curren Price (a favorite of organized labor) are all pursuing the black vote. Again, this race could be decided by knocking on doors.
Pension Attention: Former Mayor Richard Riordan last year dropped his quest to get a measure on the May ballot that would alter the city’s pension system. Anyone who assumes that’s the end of the effort doesn’t know Dick Riordan. The wealthy businessman remains convinced that L.A. is at risk of going bankrupt. He’ll push his agenda, and city employee unions that claimed victory in defeating his signature gathering effort will push back. Hard.
Taxing Matter: Speaking of the May ballot, Council president Herb Wesson has a measure on there to raise the city’s sales tax by a half cent, believing this will ease L.A.’s chronic budget crunch. It’s no sure thing, as widespread labor support is in doubt and the anti-tax crowd will campaign against it. This could be a make-or-break moment for Wesson.
Bulls in the Ring: City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is the most entertaining figure to hit City Hall in years, so it’s possible that L.A. could be a duller place after the primary on March 5 and the runoff on May 21. The volatile incumbent is going like Rock-em Sock-em Robots against Mike Feuer, a former state assemblyman and city councilman. Also in the race is Greg Smith, an attorney ready to spend about a half million bucks of his own money. Nuch, of course, finished third in the 2012 D.A.’s race, and he’s fighting like mad to keep his job. Expect Feuer and Smith to give as good as they get. Someone should make a documentary about this race.
Sacramento South: L.A.’s biggest change could involve more than a single election, as the City Council could soon be dominated by chummy former state assembly members and senators. Current reps Herb Wesson, Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz (a shoo-in for re-election) all did time up north. Felipe Fuentes is heavily favored in the Seventh District and Bob Blumenfield is well positioned in the Third. Then there are the possibilities of Cedillo in the First and Price in the Ninth. Tony Cardenas’ departure to Congress opens the Sixth District race and former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez has already declared. All this means L.A. could, for worse or better, get a major dose of Sacramento style.
Top Dog: There’s a mayor’s race too, with Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry and Kevin James all raising cash and going gangbusters. You know all about it.
Contact Jon Regardie at email@example.com.
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