Candidates in Los Angeles’ mayoral race said they think incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti will be too preoccupied with running for higher office in 2018 to tackle the city’s fundamental issues.
Although political consultant Bill Carrick said Garcetti has not yet decided about running for higher office, some candidates believe he will run for governor or senator when Gov. Jerry Brown or Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein steps down next year.
Mayoral candidate Mitchell Schwartz, who ran former President Barack Obama’s California campaign in 2008, said he thinks Garcetti is planning to run because he abandoned campaign finance programs that would set spending limits on political campaigns. Doing so allows him to raise an unlimited amount money for any campaign, he said.
Due to a change in election dates, the next mayor will serve five and a half years, rather than the standard four. Schwartz asked Garcetti last month to pledge that he will refrain from running for higher office in the first year of his term as mayor if he is re-elected. Since the election for governor or senator is in 2018, he said Garcetti would have to start campaigning immediately after being re-elected as mayor.
“Being elected as mayor is a commitment to serve,” he said. “If you have no intention of holding that position, you should not run.”
Garcetti refused to take the pledge, calling Schwartz’s demand a political stunt, the Los Angeles Times reported. Schwartz said he thinks Garcetti’s refusal to commit to just one year of being mayor without running for higher office is further proof of Garcetti’s intentions.
In his first term as mayor, Garcetti raised the minimum wage and lowered the business tax. He backed two measures, Measure M and Measure HHH, which voters approved to expand the city’s public transportation system and address homelessness, respectively.
The candidates said they think Garcetti’s administration has not solved any of the city’s major problems in the last four years.
Schwartz said if he is elected he will overhaul the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and improve community policing in areas where there is a lack of trust in the police. He added he wants to reduce traffic by adding more bus lines.
“Despite spending billions on our Metro system, ridership has decreased in the last 10 years because they keep eliminating bus lines,” he said.
Schwartz added he wants to create more affordable housing units because the average household in Los Angeles spends more of its income on rent and housing than any other city.
David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg, a free speech and civil rights activist, said he is running against Garcetti because he thinks Garcetti has grossly neglected his duties.
“We have a dead guy behind the driver’s seat,” Saltsburg said. “Crime has skyrocketed, homeless are lining the city. He has failed in a way that is a public safety hazard.”
Saltsburg also believes Garcetti will run for either governor or senator.
“It is shameless for him to use his office of mayor to campaign for higher office,” he said. “The people should be outraged.”
Saltsburg said if he is elected, he would prioritize making it easier to get things done in government and developing affordable housing solutions for the homeless.
Saltsburg said he thinks his chances of winning are slim, but he hopes to use the campaign as a platform to address corruption, homelessness, wastes of state money and luxury development projects.
Y.J. Draiman, member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and 2013 mayoral candidate, said he is running again because he thinks Garcetti has not kept the promises he made four years ago. Draiman also said he thinks Garcetti has his sights set on being California’s next governor or senator.
“The current administration does not have the interests of the people at heart,” Draiman said. “We need nonpoliticians who are from the city and care about the people.”
Draiman said his priority as mayor would be to attract businesses to the city through tax incentives and reduced permit fees. He added increased employment would save on unemployment fees and generate economic activity.
He added Garcetti has not attended any debates or forums for the candidates.
“The people come first – not your pocket, not your career,” Draiman said. “When you are too arrogant to show up to answer questions and you do not feel you need the people, you do not belong in that office.”
The election for mayor of Los Angeles will be held March 7. Westwood voters can vote by mail until Tuesday and must send their ballots to the registrar’s office by March 10, or drop them off at various locations in the area.