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Newly elected mayor Eric Garcetti speaks on city’s future, job market for graduates

Eric Garcetti, after being elected Los Angeles’ youngest mayor in recent history and first Jewish mayor, speaks at his election night event Tuesday.

By Fiona Kirby

May 23, 2013 12:19 a.m.

5.22.Elections.ai

Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti plans to focus on improving the city’s economy by creating new jobs, he said in a victory speech on Wednesday.

“This is a place we are ready to put the recession into the rearview mirror, and to move forward with prosperity once again,” he said at a news conference in Echo Park Wednesday afternoon.

In a runoff vote on Tuesday, Garcetti was elected by about an 8 percent margin over City Controller Wendy Greuel, according to the L.A City Clerk’s office.

Garcetti will be sworn into office on July 1. He has said he would like to partner with Los Angeles-based colleges like UCLA because he thinks the city could benefit from more students immediately entering the Los Angeles job market upon graduation.

E. Felicia Brannon, executive director of government and community relations at UCLA, said Garcetti and Greuel worked with UCLA on issues such as sustainability and the planned construction on the Westside Metro stop.

“We had a strong relationship with (Garcetti) as a council member and president of the council,” Brannon said. “We look forward to continuing that strong relationship as he moves into his new role.”

Eryk Waligora, a third-year history student and intern on Garcetti’s campaign, said the excitement from Garcetti’s victory has not yet hit him.

“I’ve been an intern for him since the beginning of the year, and it’s just great to see it all coming together,” he said.

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director for the public affairs department at California State University, Los Angeles, said he thinks Garcetti won because he put Greuel on the defensive through advertisements and public discourse, bringing up her support from public employees like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

He said Garcetti was able to gain votes from Republican or conservative voters who should have gravitated toward Greuel’s reputation for command of a tight budget with this strategy.

In past debates, Garcetti said he intends to ease the job-seeking process for L.A. residents, carry out pension reform for city jobs and facilitate greater communication between the city and its residents.

“That will be our road to prosperity: a business-friendly city, people working, bringing down the unemployment rate,” Garcetti said Wednesday.

Man Nguyen, a third-year physics student who voted for Greuel in the election, said he wasn’t surprised Garcetti won because polls had placed him ahead of Greuel.

“I voted because I always vote,” he said. “If you have the mentality that your votes matter, you get other people to vote and it does matter.”

Moving forward, he said he wants Garcetti to focus on growing the L.A. economy and creating a more efficient city government.

But once Garcetti takes office, he will probably focus more on smaller tasks rather than big picture items, Sonenshein said.

Mayoral administrations typically include city commissioners, who will help to carry out specific aspects of city government, and his chief of staff, who will work directly at city hall.

Sonenshein added that Garcetti will likely concentrate on understanding the budget and how city services are going to be financed, and to connect with those who supported the opposing candidate.

The new mayor will face one of his first major challenges in January when he will have to negotiate new contracts related to salary increases and pension with city employees, Sonenshein said.

“This is the big mystery for voters, who’s going to be the better negotiator,” he said.

Garcetti has said he plans to rehire all department heads at city hall once he takes office in order to ensure that they are all the best people for their jobs.

Contributing reports by Chandini Soni, Bruin contributor Kylie Reynolds, Bruin senior staff.

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