After a little more than a year in government, private equity baron Austin Beutner has resigned from the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a move that frees him up to campaign for his boss's job in 2013.
Beutner also filed paperwork today with the city Ethics Commission that will allow him to form a campaign committee and begin raising money.
“He wants to get out in the community and see whether there's support for his ideas,” said Sean Clegg, Beutner's spokesman. “He very much wants to focus on results-based stuff.”
Beutner, who worked for $1 a year, packed a lot into his 15 months in
the mayor's office. He was given the title of first deputy mayor, with
responsibility for more than a dozen departments. He ran
the Department of Water and Power on an interim basis for about six months.
was initially brought in as the mayor's “jobs czar,” and has been
credited for making the mayor's office more friendly to business. But
his achievements were often invisible to the public.
In running for mayor, Beutner will be vulnerable to the charge that he did little to boost jobs in Los Angeles during his tenure. The city's unemployment rate was 13.5% in February, down only a fraction from 14.1% when he started at the city in January 2010.
“His record is gonna stand on its own,” Clegg said. “I don't think anybody expected Austin to solve unemployment.”
During his tenure, Beutner tried to bring companies to Los Angeles — or persuade them not to leave. He pushed through a business tax holiday for companies that relocate to Los Angeles. As a candidate for mayor, he will have to broaden his message.
“You'd expect to see not just incentives for business, but a campaign about how can we make the city serve residents better,” Clegg said. “What are the elements of a more modern, results-driven government?”
If that sounds like a throwback to Richard Riordan, it's not a coincidence. The former mayor helped persuade Beutner to get involved at City Hall, after a bike accident caused Beutner to reevaluate his life and look for a public service opportunities.
Beutner, 51, is registered as a decline-to-state. He has plenty of money — more than enough to self-finance if he wants to. But Clegg said he will be fundraising.
“He's got to prove this is a real thing,” Clegg said. “It's not a measure of one person's means, but a campaign based on building a broad-based network of support.”
Beutner is one of at least seven serious candidates expected to run in 2013. The rest have much longer resumes in government. (Even mall magnate Rick Caruso has been serving on city commissions since his late 20s.) Beutner is also the candidate who is most closely linked to Villaraigosa — which could be another liability to overcome.