Kevin James, the conservative talk show host who railed against City Hall corruption during his failed campaign for mayor, has come full circle, taking a plum position on the city's Board of Public Works.
The job pays $134,000 annually, which has made it a landing spot for the mayor's friends and allies over the years. James, who endorsed Mayor Eric Garcetti in the runoff, will quit his job at a law firm to accept the position.
James' support was seen as a major boon to Garcetti's campaign, helping him win over conservative voters in the San Fernando Valley who might have been more naturally inclined to vote for Wendy Greuel.
In an interview with the Weekly, James said the Board of Public Works is “critical” to the city's future.
“One of the lines I used in the campaign… was that I'm gonna find the guy who knows how to make the manhole cover level with the street,” he said. “I'm gonna get that opportunity.”
James campaigned as an outsider, slamming the City Council's high salaries and arguing that he was the only candidate who could be trusted not to make backroom deals. In one ad, for example, he accused his rivals — including Garcetti — of being foxes guarding the City Hall henhouse. (Correction: That ad was actually run by an independent group.) In another, actors portraying Garcetti and Greuel were seen burying a body together.
Asked if his acceptance of a well-compensated political appointment might disappoint his supporters, James said he did not think it would.
“The reason they voted for me is they wanted to see me inside City Hall,” he said. “This is still an opportunity for me to be inside City Hall.”
Garcetti also hired Rick Cole, the former Ventura city manager, to be his deputy mayor of budget and innovation. Cole is also a former mayor of Pasadena.
Garcetti announced the other appointees to the Board of Public Works: former Assemblyman Mike Davis; Monica Rodriguez, an executive at the California Association of Realtors; Barbara Romero, a planning commissioner; and Matt Szabo, a former deputy chief of staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.