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Our Endorsements

Mayor: Antonio Villaraigosa We kept waiting for Antonio Villaraigosa to turn it on in his second run for the mayor’s office. He didn’t do it in the primary campaign. And he hasn’t done it in the weeks leading up to next Tuesday’s vote. It’s as though he’s content with the abysmal 26 percent turnout in March and is doing all that he can to keep from awakening the hundreds of thousands of voters who sat out the primary for fear some of them might vote for Jim Hahn. Too bad. This is not the inspirational leader Los Angeles needs to fire us up. Nor is it the one Villaraigosa has shown he can be. He has momentum, though the gap is narrowing and the latest Times poll shows Hahn has cut his lead from 18 points to 11 points, with 9 percent undecided. The former state Assembly speaker and current member of the Los Angeles City Council has won endorsements from dozens of ex–Jim Hahn backers, like Congresswoman Maxine Waters and City Council President Alex Padilla. Even people who started out with Hahn this time, like Councilman Dennis Zine, are jumping ship before it’s too late and going with him. It seems that pretty much everyone in town is less than impressed with the work that Hahn has done as mayor over the last four years and wants a change. So do we. Is this an enthusiastic Villaraigosa endorsement? Now, that’s another matter. We’d like to be able to say we’re impressed with the job Villaraigosa has done on the City Council, but two years isn’t enough time to make a mark. His district still has a high murder rate, poor schools, lagging economic development. He talks about getting dozens of new stop signs and rallying neighbors for community cleanups. We say that’s great, but it’s not by itself enough of a record on which to run for mayor. And yet he showed leadership by helping to end a public transit strike, and he kept his national stature high with his role in the Kerry for President campaign. But he’s got a spotty record of showing up for City Council business, including sessions on transportation and education, both of which he claims as special areas of expertise. And then there’s his campaign. Stumbling in debate, vitriolic at news conferences, he doesn’t seem like the Antonio who captured the nation’s imagination in 2001. He has excelled in one area: He’s raking in the dough. It’s as though he altered his old tattoo to read, “Born to raise cash.” Still, we’ve seen him as an organizer, an ACLU president and as an especially effective state Assembly speaker, and we know he has it in him to be an energetic and inspiring mayor. We know what Hahn has going for him as well, and we don’t like it. The prospect of four more years of lackadaisical work and missed opportunities is just too depressing to consider. There are enough concerns about Villaraigosa that the city will not likely let him operate on autopilot as mayor. That’s a good thing. It’s about time this city had a mayor like Antonio Villaraigosa, who’s worth our attention and who believes we’re worth his. Let’s hope if Villaraigosa wins, he and his handlers won’t be preocupied with his re-election campaign and will let him risk upsetting people as he finds solutions to L.A.’s problems, from finishing our subway system to ending the impasse at City Hall over affordable housing. Otherwise, maybe we should hope Bob Hertzberg is still looking for work in 2009. City Council, District 11: Flora Gil Krisiloff There were three good candidates on the March ballot to succeed seniormost City Council member Cindy Miscikowski. Now there are two, and it’s still a hard choice. Former cable executive and public-affairs talk show host Bill Rosendahl and neighborhood leader Flora Gil Krisiloff both say they want to fix traffic problems in the sprawling 11th Council District that runs from Westchester, Venice and Mar Vista to Brentwood and Pacific Palisades. Both want better thinking on development, both reject the compromise plan to revamp LAX. Both recognize that parochial interests in their district on subjects like affordable housing and environmental protection have citywide application. Both also have sunk pretty low in the campaign. Krisiloff’s attempt to characterize Rosendahl as a flip-flopper on Playa Vista could charitably be called a fib. Rosendahl’s focus on the various clients represented by partners of Krisiloff’s campaign consultant is disingenuous at best. They certainly have different styles. A council with Krisiloff would be wonkier; one with Rosendahl would be talkier. We back Krisiloff. When push comes to shove we think that she, as a former neighborhood gadfly and later as an appointed area planning commissioner, has a better grasp of just how to make the bewildering maze that is City Hall work for the residents of her district.