Councilman Eric Garcetti gave the first major speech of the L.A. mayoral campaign on Thursday night, vowing to nurture the city's tech sector and bring new accountability to City Hall.
Garcetti spoke in broad themes, and offered relatively little in the way of concrete proposals. He did, however, signal that he will distance himself from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, saying that he will force all of the mayor's department heads to reapply for their jobs.
“If they want to stick around, they'll have to prove they have what it takes to meet our city's urgent economic imperatives,” Garcetti said.
That would be a break from past practice. Mayors have tended to keep some of their predecessor's top staffers.
Garcetti, who served three terms on the City Council, has had some frustrations with Villaraigosa's department heads. Bill Carrick, Garcetti's campaign strategist, said that doing so would give Garcetti a stronger “managerial grip” on City Hall.
“He wants to see city government that is really responsive to the will of the people,” Carrick said. Without a changeover, he said, managers could say, “Well, we see mayors come and go. We'll wait it out.”
Much of the speech was devoted to expanding the city's economy by attracting high tech jobs. Garcetti talked about partnering with the city's colleges and universities to encourage job growth at “Silicon Beach.” He also proposed expanding computer programming instruction in the city's schools, though he did not say how the city would do that. And he vowed to create a new position at City Hall: “Chief Technology Officer.”
Garcetti vowed to evaluate City Hall staffers based on a concrete
metric: “the number of jobs you create.” He did not, however, give a
jobs figure by which his own performance could be judged.
He also did not say how he would address the city's persistent deficits, saying only that the debate about cuts and tax increases is “wrong.”
“That dynamic must change,” Garcetti said. “We need a fundamental shift. The focus must be on jobs and the economy.”