One in six registered voters will likely cast a ballot in the city election Tuesday. That’s less than 18 percent of Angelenos who will choose the new mayor, city attorney, city controller and other high offices of public service. And while we hope more people will step up to the plate this time around, we aren’t putting our money on it.
The winners of Tuesday’s primary nominating election, and then the general election May 21, will affect your life in more ways than one for at least the next four years. The mayor (and star of the showdown) is the man or woman responsible for setting the tone for the overall agenda in Los Angeles. Taking on duties such as proposing the city’s annual budget, leading the conversation in City Hall, introducing new initiatives and crafting a team thats sole job is to carry out their stated goals.
While the mayor may not directly cure unemployment by hiring droves of people or turn around a broken school system – they do things that needs to happen in order for these things to occur. The mayor can allow industries to grow in LA, leading to job growth, and helping elect members of our school board. They propose the budget and push their agenda, telling the rest of LA what is important, what needs to be focused on and opens the doors for these things to happen.
It’s said time and time again that voting is your civic duty. It is, but that isn’t the reason you should vote. You should vote because your input matters. The people we elect on every level influence our lives by setting policy and making laws. They decide what we accept to be culturally, legally, and community-driven. If you care about anything that has to do with the public as a whole, whether it’s what you can eat, how much you’re taxed, or what you can enjoy in life, our societal leaders make it happen. Besides, it takes a few minutes and minimal effort and only hurts a little bit.
LA’s next mayor: The frontrunners
Wendy Greuel- Democrat, City controller
Pros: As a life-long Angeleno, Wendy Greuel says she has an eminent interest to make not only the Valley’s connection to Los Angeles stronger, but also to see this city thrive, politically, economically and socially. As the City Controller of Los Angeles, Greuel has been known as the ‘watchdog’ over wasteful spending. Being the only candidate with a child in a public school, Greuel is also discerned as an active LAUSD parent who was a leader in the creation of LA’s BEST, a nationally acknowledged after-school program. Greuel is also known as the champion for small business and affordable housing and is identified as being the initiator of a business tax reform that supposedly returned almost $100 million to local businesses.
Cons: Greuel’s work as city controller also makes her a questionable mayoral candidate. Organizations she had overseen as a controller and councilwoman have made contributions to her campaign. As the legitimization of money in politics become more prevalent, the lines between contribution and bribery becomes more blurred; affording the city a less transparent government.
Eric Garcetti- Democrat, City Council president
Pros: Garcetti has a history of re-vitalizing his city district, 13. The area includes Silverlake, Atwater Village, Echo Park and Hollywood. Silverlake itself has long been a culturally affluent mecca and that great neighborhood vibe has made it’s way to Atwater Village and Echo Park. Hollywood is seeing an up-trend in living conditions as well. Garcetti has also been involved with keeping youths off of the streets by opening new parks and fields as well as using existing facilities from the LAUSD to allow citizens further places to enjoy in the city. His initiatives often lean towards the environmental.
Cons: Our city, like others, is in an economic crisis with rising pensions and city expenses. As president of the city council for the last six years, Garcetti bears quite a bit of the responsibility for the current state of affairs. If he couldn’t shepherd us through the downturn as president of the city council, then his claims to economic stability cast a shadow over his eligibility to do it as mayor.
Jan Perry- Democrat, City Council 9th district
Pros: Pro business and development, Perry has garnered support from business conservatives, helping her ability to negotiate with Republicans. She is also credited with improvements made in her district, overseeing projects, such as LA Live, that have created 90,000 new jobs, $15 billion in investment and $40 million in new city tax revenue. Also an avid fighter of obesity, she has put fast food restrictions in place and promotes farmers markets.
Cons: Unlike Garcetti, Perry won’t be accused of being too much of a people pleaser. Her direct approach could alienate those that don’t agree with her. One of the more controversial moments in her political career came several years ago when South Central Farm, a 14 acre plot of land in the heart of LA that fed 35 farmers and their families, was demolished. While explanations differ, some view Perry’s support of the property owners sell of the land and subsequent end to the farm showed a lack of compassion for the farmers, who cannot vote for the most part.
Kevin James- Republican, talk radio host
Pros: As an outsider James is less prone to political machinations. His tea party stances put him in the pack of populist change and that appeal alone makes him viable. As a candidate not in thrall to political elite, he can see things from a different perspective. James also has some interesting ideas about how to kickstart our economy. He wants to streamline the process for businesses to obtain permits to open shop in the city which could help revitalize our economy. James also supports opening the entire LAUSD to open enrollment and letting parents pick and choose where their kids will attend especially if they are troubled youth. It’s a radical idea and while the mayoral office has no direct control over the LAUSD, it could make for an interesting push to fix the education problems in our city.
Cons: The biggest glaring issue with James is that he’s a Republican with Republican ideas. In a city dominated by Democrats in every level of government, he immediately faces issues with getting his right leaning agenda pushed forward. His lack of political experience will only exacerbate this issue. James also has misguided issues when it comes to our culture of marijuana. He wants to limit the expansion of dispensaries in the city which will have an adverse affect on the cultural acceptance of a harmless drug.
What else we can vote on:
A new city controller, the taxpayers ‘watchdog’ and LA’s chief auditor and accountant that supervise the city’s financial records and expenditures.
Three of the seven Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education seats and Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees seats are up for election.
A new city attorney, the main prosecutor, legal advisor and general counsel for LA.
Eight new seats for City Council districts have to be determined, including 1,3,5,7, 9,11,13, and 15.
To find out who running for each office lacity.org.
You will also get the chance to vote on two ballot measures.
Proposition A: Neighborhood Public Safety and Vital City Services Funding and Accountability Measure.
This issue at hand is whether or not the LA should enact transactions and use tax (referred to as sales tax) of one-half percent to help fund City services.
A yes vote mean L.A will see a sales tax increase.
Charter Amendment B: Fire and Police Pension Plan: Cost Neutral Purchases of Retirement Credit by Certain Members.
This measure would modify the Los Angeles City Charter to allow certain police personnel in the City’s Department of General Service (OSD) who become LAPD officers to transfer their retirement benefits from the City civilian system to a sworn employee retirement system. The measure is not expected to result in any additional cost to the City or to the City’s general fund.
A yes vote mean you are willing to give DGS police personnel who becomes members of the Fire and Police Pension Plan the option to change their pension plan.
A no vote mean the police personnel will not be allowed to transfer their retirement credit.
Where to vote:
Students who wish to vote can do so at the Satellite Student Union Lobby on campus. The SSU is at the north end of campus near the residential dorm rooms and the address is 9851 Zelzah Ave. The polls open early at 7 a.m. and close late at 8 p.m. That’s plenty of time to get out and make a difference. If you’d rather find something near your house, you can also visit lavote.net.