In mayoral race, the city of L.A. will be the loser

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After a slow start following the March primary, the race to become the next mayor of Los Angeles has heated up in the past few weeks.

At first, the candidates seemed to be hiding. The first debate took place at 5 p.m., when most Angelinos were stuck in rush-hour traffic, while the second debate was in the morning when most were at work. Since then, the two candidates, incumbent Mayor Jim Hahn and challenger Councilmember Antonio Villaraigosa, have been crisscrossing the city, stumping for votes and picking up endorsements.

After getting a long, hard look at both candidates, I’m not impressed. They should have kept hiding.

Even though the polls show Villaraigosa with as much as a double-digit lead, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter who receives the most votes, the ultimate loser will be Los Angeles.

Hahn and Villaraigosa have so much in common, reading their positions on the most important issues makes it difficult to tell them apart. Both are Democrats. Both favor tax increases to hire more police, even though the crime rate is down. Both favor Special Order 40, which prohibits Los Angeles Police Department officers from asking people about their immigration status, even when they are known gang members who shouldn’t be in the United States. Both also favor open borders and drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants. Both want to herd more people onto buses and trains like cattle.

Villaraigosa often attacks Hahn for not following through on all the promises he made, both in the 2001 mayoral race and the 2002 Valley secession campaign, and for having allegations of corruption made against him. Rather than dispute Villaraigosa’s claims, Hahn has returned fire by calling Villaraigosa dishonest for running for mayor after pledging to serve a full term on the L.A. City Council, and hypocritical for sending his kids to private school instead of public schools.

The mayor’s campaign ads stress his role in “Keeping L.A. Together,” referring to his use of deceit and scare tactics to deny the San Fernando Valley liberation from City Hall. However, it would appear that in some ways, the city is more divided now than it has been in quite a while.

African Americans are shown as being split right down the middle in their support for either candidates, according to one recent poll. Many African Americans are still loyal to Hahn because of what his father, Kenneth Hahn, did during his service on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Villaraigosa has taken a big bite out of Hahn’s hold on African American voters by receiving endorsements from influential African Americans like Magic Johnson, and by capitalizing on the criticism Hahn has faced since ousting former Police Chief Bernard Parks.

Villaraigosa, on the other hand, has tried to keep many of his promises, but often ends up looking out for members of Latino communities first. This is illustrated by his blanket support for taxpayer-funded housing and free college, which aids many Latinos. While he has been catering to people that share his background, everybody else has had to take a back seat. All this is fine for a city councilmember from a predominantly Latino area, but not for the mayor of a city as multicultural as Los Angeles.

Perhaps Hahn’s failure to keep all of his promises is his most redeeming trait, since none of his plans would even help that much. This is best illustrated by the biggest joke of all, his so-called traffic relief program. In a city with thousands of clogged intersections which delay commutes and cause pollution, Mayor Hahn’s plan would fix only 25 of these intersections each year.

I’m usually the type of guy that would urge everybody to go out and vote in any election, whether it’s national or municipal, regardless of political affiliation. However, that’s not going to happen this time. These two candidates are jokes, and will only flush this city further down the drain.

Dylan Boggs is a senior broadcast journalism major.