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You’ve Arrived in Los Angeles, the City Where Political Careers Are Dead
L.A. a racial incident at LA City Hall shows the political minefield facing its future mayor. It also shows that the nation’s second-most-populous city has become a cemetery for rising Democrats. Even before leaked audio of three City Council members fanned racial differences, local government was struggling with increased crime, homelessness, and corruption inquiries.
Democratic strategist and former Biden speechwriter Mathew Littman remarked, “This is a miserable job right now.” Whoever becomes mayor is like governing England after WWII.
A few years ago, Eric Garcetti, the current mayor of Los Angeles, seemed prepared to run for president. Garcetti may leave office without a job because of how he handled s*xual misconduct charges against an assistant. Democratic mayoral candidate Rep. Karen Bass was on Joe Biden’s 2020 VP shortlist. Los Angeles mayors should ignore the White House. None have been governors. Antonio Villaraigosa finished third for governor in 2018.
Garcetti: “It’s a challenging job because everyone watches you.” “I enjoy that my job is actionable and quick. But they also believe you can alter anything, and these perspectives are both more strong and more impotent than people realize, often even the slightest things: Why can’t you just remove that tent? Why isn’t this junction safe?
Whoever becomes mayor — Bass or her millionaire former Republican opponent Rick Caruso — will face these difficulties and the aftermath of leaked audio of three City Council members having a racist talk. Voters doubt how much can be done. Darry Sragow, a Democratic strategist who conducted focus groups on homelessness in Los Angeles late last year, said people were “dejected and dispirited” and had given up faith that elected officials would get anything done on homelessness or other issues.
LA’s next mayor will have to deal with an autonomous school board, 15 important Council members, and a powerful county government over which he has no influence. Sragow: “The Council is important.” Whether it’s Bass or Caruso, the Council is chaotic and has lost people’s trust. I don’t know how you do it.”
Nury Martinez resigned last week after a covertly recorded audio revealed her uttering racist and derogatory words. Two other Council members who participated in the chat remain. Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo refused to resign, triggering fury and pledges from demonstrators to shut down any in-person sessions.
Protesters tried to enter City Hall during a remote Council meeting last week after one member tested positive for Covid-19. They begged members to end the meeting for almost three hours.
Bass had been considered the frontrunner in the mayoral campaign, but Caruso has spent significantly and some surveys put him ahead. Bass, a former California Assembly speaker and longstanding community organizer, is not expected to seek higher office.
“Karen Bass is 69,” said Kerman Maddox, a prominent Los Angeles political consultant, and unpaid Bass campaign adviser. She’s done. She’s not running for office.” Read more: NBA Official Tony Brown Passes Away at the Age of 55, After a Long Fight With Cancer
When she informed him, “I’m leaving a secure position in Congress to handle this, she continued, “Kerman, this is it, this is my last one.” So I’ll make tough, unpopular judgments because I’m not considering my gubernatorial or senate campaigns. Nothing against Antonio Villaraigosa or Eric Garcetti, but her perspective is different since she’s not running for governor.
John Shallman, who worked with past Los Angeles mayors Richard Riordan and James Hahn, termed the job “thankless” Generations have known this. Before Villaraigosa, Riordan and Tom Bradley ran unsuccessfully for governor. Bradley commanded LA from 1973-1993. Shallman, who counseled City Attorney Mike Feuer’s losing campaign, stated, “Do the best darn job you can and call it a day.”
Los Angeles mayors face a broad network of local and regional leaders with varying interests. Shallman compared each City Council member to a mini-mayor with a political agenda. The mayor must also interact with a powerful county board and dozens of neighboring cities. Bass’ admirers think she’s particularly qualified to lead the city through a racial crisis. Longtime Bass buddy Villaraigosa said working across racial and party lines is crucial for a limited-power LA mayor. Read more: Nevada boy dies: from an uncommon amoeba that feeds on brains
The mayor of Los Angeles must be comfortable in all communities, he added. No one has her record of crossing racial borders. As unpleasant as this time is, it hasn’t changed the credentials for the next mayor. Bass said she left a safe congressional seat to run for mayor because racial and economic disparities had worsened since she fought poverty and violence in South Los Angeles.
“Look at the homeless,” she remarked. “If we’d handled it, I wouldn’t be running for mayor. I’d run for Congress.” How much Bass or Caruso can do is unknown. The office’s present tenant sees its limits. “I don’t think LA needs a single tent,” Garcetti stated. “It’s OK to avoid LA traffic. It’s OK to desire LA to be pollution-free. We can’t have one expensive unit in Los Angeles. What are we doing if we’re not moving toward them?
“But it’s hard for individuals in a one-click world, where Amazon delivers now, to grasp government,” he said.
It is the nature of politics and human affairs that all political careers, barring a fortunate interruption, eventually collapse. British politician Enoch Powell stated as much, and he too had a promising career that ultimately fizzled out.
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