Tuesday, October 15

Throwback Thursday: LA’s mayoral elections, then and now

With the upcoming mayoral elections in mind, the Quad looks back on Daily Bruin's 1981 interview with Tom Bradley. (Daily Bruin archives)

With the upcoming mayoral elections in mind, the Quad looks back on Daily Bruin's 1981 interview with Tom Bradley. (Daily Bruin archives)

Some things never change. Especially when it comes to politics.

If you haven’t heard, Los Angeles is holding its city elections next week on March 7. Angelenos are being entrusted to determine a multitude of things, like whether or not the city has the power to regulate and tax marijuana, if development projects should be stalled for two years and – most importantly – whether or not LA harbor department leases should be extended from 50 to 66 years.

Of course, if the technicalities of city measures don’t excite you, it’s worth noting the upcoming elections will also give Angelenos a chance to select their next mayor.

This year, a whopping 11 mayoral candidates are battling it out for the prestigious City Hall armchair. Contestants include Eric Garcetti, the current mayor of LA who is running for his second term in office, and others such Mitchell Schwartz, a political strategist who directed President Obama’s 2008 campaign in California. There’s even Paul E. Amori, a political outsider running on the “Vote 4 Love” campaign to spread more love in LA. Talk about variety.

The candidates have brought many issues to the table, such as LA’s homelessness, troublesome traffic, lack of affordable housing and even the LA Department of Water and Power’s lack of transparency. Garcetti has campaigned on the promise to build on the achievements of his tenure these past four years, while other candidates have pointed to the persisting problems of LA as reasons for not reelecting him.

Now, this might sound like politics as usual, but it should come as a surprise to know that this year’s mayoral election is similar – arguably a hairline short of identical – to the one 36 years ago. Of course, Garcetti wasn’t running for mayor back then, but as the Daily Bruin reported on April 6, 1981, Tom Bradley was.

In a question-answer session, Tom Bradley spoke to editor Mary Astadourian about his campaign for a third term as mayor and the challenges the city was facing at the time.

Astadourian questioned Bradley on a variety of issues, like the city’s crime rates, the potential federal government funding cuts to the city under the then-Ronald Reagan administration, LA’s bid for the 1984 Olympics and the solution to the city’s ailing transit system. And when you stop and think about it, these are many of the same issues Angelenos face today.

Of course, some of Bradley’s answers differ greatly from Garcetti’s stances. For example, Bradley spoke vaguely about addressing the city’s mess of a transit system, telling Astadourian how uncertain he was about the effects of increasing commuter lines in the city – a process, he claimed, would take a lot of time and capital funding. On the other hand, Garcetti helped author and pass a ballot measure to revitalize LA’s transportation system through rail and bus expansions.

And when asked about the then-rapidly rising crime rate, Bradley pointed to his efforts to increase the city’s police force and the number of patrolling vehicles. On the contrary, the Los Angeles Police Department’s leadership – and Garcetti – has worked to address the tension caused by policies such as Bradley’s.

By all means, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, considering Garcetti has a 36-year head start on Bradley. However, despite the two men’s differences, it’s clear the road to reelection – at least in LA’s case – can be fairly cookie-cutter at times.

Considering Garcetti isn’t all that worried about his competition, that might be a fair way to put it.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit
Senior staff columnist

Tadimeti was the Daily Bruin's Opinion editor from 2017-2019 and an assistant Opinion editor in the 2016-2017 school year. He tends to write about issues pertaining to the higher education, state politics and the administration, and blogs occasionally about computer science. Tadimeti was also the executive producer of the "No Offense, But" and "In the Know" Daily Bruin Opinion podcasts.

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • http://www.energysavers2.com Yj Draiman

    My name is YJ Draiman; I am an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council for 4 terms. I would like you to elect me as Mayor of Los Angeles. My vision is to improve L.A. for all Angelinos, and it starts initially with 5 crucial issues: bringing good paying JOBS back to L.A.; improving the educational system; fixing our infrastructure; a balanced budget; and addressing the homeless epidemic.

    The most fundamental building block of any prosperous city is Economics, which means good paying full time Jobs. I will stop the current loss of good paying jobs and implement an aggressive plan to keep industry, and bring new industry and businesses into L.A. by providing great incentives and employ the unemployed.

    In order to secure the future of L.A. we must ensure the future of our children and grandchildren, which means we MUST substantially improve our Educational System, and do it now. We must utilize city services for all Angelinos equally and provide responsible finance, transparency and full disclosure.

    The City of LA has been going downhill for at least the past 15 years and more. The budget and revenues do not cover the costs of running the city. We must operate the city with responsible finance management and transparency.
    Promote new businesses, fix the infrastructure, and obey the law no matter what. Fix and improve our education system and our transportation system.
    Devise a system that will maintain our infrastructure on an ongoing basis without coming to the people to fix and do a catch-up for 90 years of neglect.

    I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people’s politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true.

    Thank you, YJ Draiman
    Check my website at http://draimanformayor.com