By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Conventional wisdom says it takes deep pockets to reach voters in a district as gerrymandered as CD 2. But plenty of the grass-roots candidates have already earned reputations by crusading on local issues. In a name-recognition poll paid for by Krekorian’s campaign, Benson — a Sun Valley environmental advocate who is only beginning to reach out to voters districtwide — proved to be better known than City Hall favorite Essel.
“I don’t think you need $100,000,” Benson says. “If I can activate the activists, no amount of campaign literature plugging the mailbox will matter.”
The Valley secession war in ’02 earned charismatic Van Nuys candy store owner Frank Sheftel a following. So when he filed to run for Greuel’s seat, Sheftel raised $5,000 in no time. He is calling voters personally and showing up at every neighborhood council and homeowners meeting — the type of in-your-face political presence that could put a dark horse in a runoff.
On the issues, the candidates seem to agree. After all, who’s going to say they plan to drive away more businesses and bring in crushing overdevelopment? When L.A. Weekly asked if she’s promising any specifics, Essel falls silent. She then talks of “putting constituents first” and “making the city more responsive.”
The Weekly also asked Krekorian, a Burbank resident who jumped borders to run for Los Angeles City Council, if he’s saying anything others are not. Again, silence. His eventual answer: “I don’t think people should be too interested in what we’re saying but rather what we’ve done” — but that could put his Assembly voting record front and center, not to mention the lower house’s failure to plan for a rainy day while Krekorian was in a key position.
Galatzan has vowed to reject a free city car, to pursue a charter amendment that would create a DWP ratepayer advocate, and to act to shut down scores of illegal pot dispensaries spreading through the Valley like wildfire.
The grass-roots gunners are not shy about making promises. Michael McCue, a Studio City neighborhood council board member who some say has been impressive at debates, wants “clean money” elections and a “collections sheriff” to go after funds owed to the city.
Sanchez, a founding member of the Neighborhood Council Valley Village, and who is well-known in Valley Village and Studio City, wants multiyear financial planning on the city budget. “A lot of [Sanchez’s] message is about being financially responsible,” says Hatfield. “He’s very rational.”
One surprise factor could help a local candidate compete with the big boys on September 22: The 88 neighborhood councils citywide are taking an interest in the Valley race. One reason is that Greuel’s successor will sit on the Planning and Land-Use Management Committee, whose three members have tremendous power over development.
The winner in CD 2 will also chair a committee that oversees neighborhood councils, which are fighting a plan to require neighborhood council leaders to disclose their personal financial data each time they propose an item for discussion on the City Council agenda — a perceived effort to silence the neighborhood councils. The CD 2 candidate who seems best equipped to fight this plan could be the one to watch.
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