Some community leaders have already endorsed candidates for the city’s primary elections next March, including the council seat representing Westwood and surrounding neighborhoods.
Incumbent Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz received more endorsements from city officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, than his challenger, 31-year-old lawyer Jesse Creed. Whoever voters elect next year will serve a term of five and a half years instead of four because the city will not hold its next election until 2022 to coincide with state and federal election.
Parke Skelton, Koretz’s campaign consultant, was unavailable to comment on his plans, but said in a press release that Koretz advocates for environmental issues, gun control, animal rights and the district’s residential neighborhoods.
Victor Narro, the project director of the UCLA Labor Center and a labor studies professor, said he endorsed Koretz because of his experience and strong record defending labor rights as a state assemblyman from 2000 to 2006 and as a city councilmember.
He said he thinks Koretz championed minimum wage increases and stronger enforcement of wage theft laws.
“When most legislators lose a fight, they let it go,” Narro said. “But he kept at it and he brought it down to a local level.”
Sandy Brown, president of the Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association and vice president of the Westwood Neighborhood Council, said she has endorsed Koretz since he first ran for his current post in 2009.
She said she thinks that because of his experience as a state assemblyman and city councilmember, he knows how city government works and has a history of listening to constituents.
“Paul seems to want the community to bring issues to him and let them decide what’s best,” Brown said. “Different parts of his area have different issues – (residents) are the ones who know our community best.”
For instance, Koretz’s motion to move a planned bike lane from Westwood Boulevard to Gayley Avenue prioritized residents’ concerns about traffic and safety over giving cyclists the most direct route to UCLA, she said.
Brown added she thinks residents in Westwood care about traffic, road quality and safety the most.
Lisa Chapman, the president of the Westwood Neighborhood Council, said she has not yet decided whether to endorse Koretz.
She said she thinks Koretz does not actively advocate for more green space in the area or citywide pension reform because of his obligations to developers and labor unions.
She added she thinks Koretz hasn’t actively addressed homelessness and could be more involved in revitalizing the Village instead of leaving business permits and other decisions up to the Westwood Design Review Board and community leaders.
On the other hand, she said Koretz has been helpful on issues like moving the planned Westwood Boulevard bike lane to Gayley Avenue and ensuring the Broxton Garage remained publicly owned instead of being leased in 2011.
Creed, who said he wants to increase community engagement and focus on addressing traffic and homelessness in the district, received endorsements from former LA Mayor Richard Riordan and Westwood Neighborhood Councilmember David Lorango.
Creed said he thinks some community leaders felt obligated to endorse Koretz because they have to continue working with him until his term ends.
He added he thinks Koretz does not prioritize his constituents and tends to let neighborhood governance take care of itself until he needs to make a final decision.
“We need more active and energetic leadership in the district,” Creed said. “There’s been a lot of missed opportunities to address challenges such as homelessness and affordable housing.”
As of June 30, Creed had raised about $112,000 and Koretz had raised about $192,000, according to reports submitted to the LA City Ethics Commission.