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Mayoral candidate Garcetti visits Westwood

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By Katherine Hafner and Erin Donnelly

March 5, 2013 5:19 a.m.

Dolores Vera was heading home from Margarita Monday, explaining to her friends why she plans to vote for Eric Garcetti in Tuesday’s mayoral primary, when the city councilman came up to her on a street in Westwood and offered her a Diddy Riese cookie.

Mayoral candidate and Democrat Garcetti came to Westwood Village Monday night, after a day of campaigning across Los Angeles County, to drum up some UCLA student votes.

He ran into Vera, a fifth-year gender studies student, while he was walking on Broxton Avenue from the popular ice cream eatery Diddy Riese to 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria.

“This is the weirdest thing ever,” Vera said while passing Garcetti, who then stopped to hug and take a picture with her.

Garcetti is one of eight total candidates running for mayor, and is currently tied in the polls with fellow candidate and UCLA alumna Wendy Greuel, according to the Associated Press.

If no one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, the top two contenders will advance to a runoff election in May.

Arriving at Diddy Riese just after 9:30 p.m., Garcetti greeted supporters and people in line and bought a box of 30 cookies. He distributed them to supporters and other customers.

“That’s at least 30 votes,” he said, laughing.

Garcetti has platformed on the notion of fiscal responsibility. As a city councilman for Los Angeles’ 13th district – which includes the Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles area – he said he led the county in job creation.

Another platform of his includes creating an office to partner with local colleges such as UCLA in order to retain a skilled workforce in L.A. and create streamlined transportation in Westwood, he said. His model for this is Stanford and the surrounding Palo Alto area, he added.

Other mayoral candidates have also said they support the creation of jobs and rebooting the L.A. economy.

Voter turnout for Los Angeles county elections has historically been low.

Garcetti said he came to Westwood on Monday to talk with UCLA students and encourage them to vote. He is concerned about the possibility of across-the-board low voter turnout in this year’s city election, he said.

Sebastian Milla, a fourth-year world arts and cultures student, said he thinks it is important for the next mayor of Los Angeles to make local politics relevant for young people.

“Specifically with students – we are aloof and people don’t care,” said Milla, who came to Diddy Riese to show support for Garcetti.

He added that he thought small interactive events with young people, such as visiting restaurants in Westwood, is a good way to engage students.

“I hadn’t planned (on voting in Tuesday’s primary) until he walked into my favorite pizza place,” said Rahim Kurwa, a graduate student in the UCLA Department of Sociology.

Kurwa said he was still not completely satisfied with the answer Garcetti gave him to a question, and is unsure if he will vote Tuesday.

After meeting Garcetti, Vera’s friends said they were still unsure whether or not they were going to vote Tuesday or who they wanted to vote for.

Students who are planning to vote in Tuesday’s election can find polling places at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house, Vintage Westwood Horizons in Westwood Village and Rieber Fireside Lounge. The polls open at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.

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