Read L.A. Weekly feature story "Meet Emanuel Pleitez."
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez, a 30-year-old Stanford grad and technology executive who grew up on the mean streets of El Sereno, pushed forward a three-point immigration plan yesterday, attempting to further connect with Latino voters. Will that aggressive outreach hurt rival Eric Garcetti on Election Day?
Garcetti has been relying on the Latino vote to give him an edge in the competitive primary, but underdog Pleitez has been undertaking a grassroots campaign that heavily targets those voters in South L.A. and the Eastside. With Garcetti only a few percentage points ahead of Wendy Greuel, according to the polls, Pleitez could act as a spoiler.
On Wednesday, Pleitez (pronounced "play-tez") rolled out his three-point immigration plan in Boyle Heights, where he also set up a campaign headquarters. Garcetti and Greuel located their HQs in the San Fernando Valley.
Pleitez called for the opening of immigration centers citywide to expedite applications for people eligible for U.S. permanent residency and citizenship, creating a municipal work visa program that would guarantee workers' rights under California law, and establishing a multi-million dollar scholarship fund that subsidizes early education and after-school programs for young people in low-income families.
"Los Angeles will be a city that pushes the envelope," Pleitez said yesterday, "always asking what else we can do to make this city a great city not just for immigrants, but all groups that too often feel the American Dream slipping by."
In a recent Survey USA poll, Garcetti saw his numbers slipping among Latinos while Pleitez improved his standing among them.
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Pleitez, whose mother is Mexican and father is Salvadoran, grew up in gang-plagued El Sereno. He lives there now in his old childhood home. Over the past several months, his campaign has been building up support within the Latino community.
Pleitez hopes for a high Latino voter turnout in the March 5 primary that goes his way and helps him to grab one of the two top spots for a May runoff.
Political experts believe he faces a huge challenge, but his efforts could hurt Garcetti.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.