Photo by Debra DiPaolo

Gil Garcetti was hard put to make the right choice for his son, Eric. “Do you think this one would be quite right?” he asked a fellow customer at a Westside Trader Joe’s last Sunday. The other allowed that for $2.99 a bottle, that particular chardonnay wasn’t actually bad. “Then it will do for this afternoon’s fund-raiser,” the former district attorney said, gathering up a few jugs.

There were just two more weekends left until the June 5 runoff. The elder Garcetti was doing his best to keep up with his 30-year-old in the last stretch of his son’s campaign for the 13th District Los Angeles City Council seat.

Earlier that week, before an Adelphia cable-TV debate, the elder Garcetti noted that he’d never knocked on voters’ doors during his three campaigns for county office. “There were just too many of them,” he allowed. But now, he said, the recognition factor helped him — and his son, of course — in his door-to-door trekking. “I even got invited inside for a wedding. And they took my picture with the bride and groom.”

The other runoff contender, Mike Woo, noted that his own father, wholesale-produce executive Wilbur, was also deeply involved in helping out his son in what may be the most-watched of the 2001 council runoffs. “But he just doesn’t have the recognition that Eric’s father does,” Woo allowed pensively.

This is a very tight contest (Garcetti led in the primary by just 147 votes), and such factors could be important. As both candidates tend to admit, their political differences are few. Apart from their 19-year age difference, the main distinctions are experience — and character.

Electric shock treatment on a big scale
Photo by Slobodan Dimitrov

“There’s my experience in office and my experience since I left office,” Woo said. He also says he’s lived in the district 19 years longer than Garcetti, but then he’s also lived that much longer, period. But most importantly, he served this district in the past and made a dramatic early demand for Daryl Gates’ resignation. He still wants credit for it.

Garcetti acknowledges that Woo’s done good work in the district, but insists that his own experience, plus a more modern activist agenda, would help the 13th more. He also questions whether Woo really laid the foundations for the dramatic revival Hollywood enjoyed under recent incumbent Jackie Goldberg.

Considering how controversial Goldberg sometimes seemed on the council, it is interesting how her influence in the district continues. Garcetti, for instance, has her endorsement. Woo has that of her self-proclaimed, would-be successor and former staffer, Conrado Terrazas. Woo has replaced Harvey Englander, the veteran consultant who led him to his 1985 upset council win, with Sue Burnside, a Goldberg campaign veteran, who, according to Woo, better knows the Hollywood–Silver Lake–Echo Park area.

LA Weekly