Here's a quick guide to the key races and issues on the May 21, 2013 ballot in the city of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Mayoral Race:
Read this fascinating dissection of the five main behavioral and philosophical differences between 2013 Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, written by L.A. Weekly reporter Gene Maddaus.
But if you're lazy, here's a summary of key differences between Garcetti and Greuel:
On failing schools, Greuel jumped in stronger and sooner to support education reform while Garcetti, who is backed by the teachers union, jumped in later and with less enthusiasm; Garcetti is expected to rely more upon environmental groups to guide DWP's efforts to go green while Greuel is expected to rely more on DWP union leaders who back her race; Greuel is more concerned about the problems that density and development can bring while Garcetti is more avidly pro-development even in the face of local opposition; Garcetti is more likely to push a group of stakeholders toward his ideological goals while Greuel is more likely to broker an agreement among an array of stakeholders and put process before ideology; and, finally, Garcetti has a greater appetite for risk while Greuel is more cautious.
Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Measures D, E and F:
Proposition D: Reducing dispensaries to the 135 that opened before September 2007, Prop. D is the City Council's effort to shut down some 1,000 shops that sprang up after its attempted moratorium. Remaining dispensaries would pay taxes of $60 per $1,000 of gross earnings, an increase of $10. Requires 8 p.m. closure and background checks of dispensary workers; establishes distances from schools, parks, libraries, child care centers and other weed outlets. Exempts from regulation groups of three or fewer patients or caretakers growing weed in residential buildings.
Ordinance E: Put on the ballot by the United Food and Commercial Workers, this measure fell into no-man's land when the UFCW belatedly decided to back the City Council's alternative, D — too late to remove E from the ballot. Dispensaries would pay no new taxes and would be reduced to the original 135.
Ordinance F: Backed by leaders of about 1,000 dispensaries that opened after the moratorium, F allows an unlimited number of pot dispensaries. All would pay taxes of $60 per $1,000 of gross earnings, an increase of $10. Requires 10 p.m. closure and background checks of workers and volunteers; establishes distances from schools, parks, libraries, child care facilities and other dispensaries; requires testing for toxins. Exempts from regulation collectives of any size that grow weed in residential buildings.
Los Angeles City Attorney:
Incumbent Carmen Trutanich faces a tough race against state legislator Mike Feuer after becoming a lightning rod for controversy during his first four-year stint in the job. Many say Trutanich torpedoed his political career by vowing not to run for higher office and to serve out his full four years, then choosing to run for Los Angeles County district attorney — a race he badly lost.
Trutanich, a gifted litigator, brought his pugnacious courtroom personality into play with the City Council and others, making numerous enemies at City Hall. Although he accomplished, or made headway on, a number of his priorities, Trutanich has repeatedly attracted negative press attention. Feuer is exceedingly dull in comparison, and has a longstanding reputation for being arrogant. The polls strongly suggest voters are more than ready to make a switch.
Los Angeles Unified School Board District 6:
Two unknowns, Antonio Sanchez and Monica Ratliff, are battling it out in the most potentially game-changing, yet underreported, local Los Angeles race on Tuesday: the campaign for the powerful LAUSD Board of Education.
Sanchez, former body man to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is depicted as the reform candidate while Ratliff, a teacher, is depicted as the candidate who defends the anti-reform union, United Teachers of Los Angeles. But both neophyte candidates lack track records in office.
The winner will replace a strong Antonio Villaraigosa ally on the Board of Education, Nury Martinez, who is running for City Council. Martinez is among the majority on the LAUSD board who support of the policies of Superintendent John Deasy, a widely acknowledged change agent who is ushering in historic reforms (including halting the longtime Dance of the Lemons by firing incompetent and misbehaving teachers).
On Tuesday, Deasy could lose his majority support: Ratliff, a UTLA chapter chair, has publicly slammed Deasy. Sanchez has vowed to support Deasy's agenda, including his embrace of charter schools, the California parent trigger law, and numerous other classroom and administrative reforms strongly opposed by UTLA.
Los Angeles City Controller:
City Councilman and former cop Dennis Zine faces civic leader and attorney Ron Galperin in an apparently close contest. Galperin has put in many hours on task forces and commissions that study and propose ways for Los Angeles to collect and raise more money to provide city services. During the March primary race, Galperin got more votes than the far better-known Zine. Zine is a sometimes-outspoken San Fernando Valley-area councilman who tends to toe the line with the majority on the City Council once issues finally come to a vote.
Los Angeles City Council Districts 1, 6, 9 and 13:
Los Angeles is seeing an unprecedented flow of male state legislators from Sacramento to the L.A. City Council, the highest paid councilmember seats in the U.S. at $178,789. Each ex-legislator has been helped to victory thanks to deep-pocketed special interest groups, a trend that has earned them the unflattering nickname "Sacramento South." The all-male wave played a major role in stamping out women from the 15-member L.A. City Council. L.A. Weekly freelance writer Hillel Aron reports that the City Council had five female council members several years ago; today it has only one woman.
Currently, Sacramento South is comprised of ex-legislators Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, and Herb Wesson. They will be joined on July 1 by ex-legislators Bob Blumenfield and Felipe Fuentes. On Tuesday, ex-legislator Gil Cedillo and current legislator Curren Price hope to join the boys of Sacramento South.
City Council District 1 (Pico Union, Lincoln Heights, Chinatown, Mt. Washington):
Jose Gardea, the top deputy to City Councilman Ed Reyes, is running against Gil Cedillo, a former state assemblyman, in one of two council races on Tuesday that pit well-known Los Angeles city council aides against longtime Sacramento legislators who are going local in an effort to extend their political lives.
Cedillo, backed by deep pockets he cultivated in Sacramento, is in a tight battle against Gardea, who is widely known to many residents in the wide-ranging district because he has participated in scores of community meetings and workshops as Reyes' longtime aide. Cedillo has authored scores of laws and is best known for authoring the California Dream Act to provide state tuition aid to undocumented immigrant students.
City Council District 6 (Panorama City, Van Nuys, Sun Valley):
This is a special election primary to fill the seat vacated by Tony Cardenas, who went to Congress. Many expect the two finalists, who will face each other in a runoff in late July, to be LAUSD board member Nury Martinez and former legislator Cindy Montanez. The other candidates are Richard Valdez, J. Roy Garcia, Walter Alexander Escobar and Derek Waleko.
As Hillel Aron reports:
"The race is shaping up as a Hatfields-and-McCoys passion play between warring political 'families' who, for two decades, have dominated the incestuous world of Northeast Valley politics — and sent son upon son, rarely a daughter, to Sacramento or Spring Street.
"Nury Martinez is part of a Latino powerbase in the Valley including Cardenas; state senator Alex Padilla; ex-assemblyman Felipe Fuentes and assemblyman Raul Bocanegra. Cindy Montanez's power clan, meanwhile, includes former California speaker Fabian Nunez; departing councilman Richard Alarcon and state senator Kevin de Leon."
City Council District 9 (USC, South Los Angeles):
Ana Cubas, former top deputy to City Councilman Jose Huizar in District 14, is running against legislator Curren Price. Price moved to L.A. from Inglewood — where he was a councilman and later represented Inglewood in the assembly. In 2008 he won a state senate seat. The turf over which Cubas and Price are struggling — the so-called "Great Ninth" made up of Downtown L.A. and South L.A. — was chopped up in a controversial gerrymander quietly arranged by City Council President Herb Wesson. Almost all of DTLA was stripped out and shifted into CD 14 as a political favor to Jose Huizar. CD 9 now includes only a bit of downtown, essentially Staples Center and L.A. Live.
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Cubas is hoping on Tuesday to capitalize on her many years of community work for Huizar in adjacent CD 14. Price says he will tend to local issues and insists he has not been criticized for jumping on the Sacramento South trend.
City Council District 13 (Hollywood, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Silver Lake):
This is the most contentious City Council race, featuring a seasoned City Council aide, Mitch O'Farrell, and a political neophyte, John Choi. O'Farrell was the decade-long deputy to Councilman Eric Garcetti, and has participated in scores of community meetings, hearings and projects. Choi, unknown in the area until recently, moved to Echo Park last year to run for the office and launched a high-cost effort to build his name ID. Choi is backed by vast sums of union money, and earned the unwanted attention of the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, which singled him out — alone among City Council candidates — for his fealty to unions.
Choi, who served on the obscure Board of Public Works for less than a year, argues that he is ready for office, having gained an understanding of the city's infrastructure and other problems on that board. O'Farrell argues that his extensive local knowledge and track record should be the decider.