LA WATCHDOG-In the well attended 2013 Mayoral Candidate Forum at Cal State Northridge, former Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner asked Eric Garcetti whether he favored consolidating City elections with those of the State and Federal governments.
Garcetti responded that this issue had been considered in the past, that there was a tradeoff between “fewer people, more focused or more people, less focused” and that our candidates and issues would “get lost in the noise” of a Presidential election.
He also said that our local elections are “arguably more important to our lives than the President of the United States is.”
Rather than taking the easy road, Garcetti said he “would rather keep things the way they are, but strive to have more and more participation.”
But rather than having an “independent conversation” about changing our election cycle as suggested by Garcetti, the Herb Wesson led City Council placed Charter Amendments 1 and 2 on the March ballot without engaging in a meaningful conversation with the voters.
Many have questioned why Garcetti has been silent about his position on Charter Amendments 1 and 2, including a Los Angeles Times editorial, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Silence on LA Issues Helps No One.
On the other hand, Garcetti’s office called out the supporters of Charter Amendments 1 and 2 for wrongly saying that he supported these two ballot measures.
Many have speculated that Garcetti’s silence was because he did not want to alienate Council President Herb Wesson who has a strong vested interest in passing Charter Amendment 1. If the amendments are approved by the voters, and assuming Wesson is reelected, his term of office will be extended from June 30, 2019 to December of 2020. This will allow Wesson to not only collect an additional $500,000 in salary, pension, medical benefits, and discretionary funds, but also provide him a platform to run his campaign to replace the termed out County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Garcetti will need Wesson’s support in the upcoming battle of the budget. Despite next year’s projected budget deficit of $165 million, Garcetti wants to increase the funding for his initiatives for Sustainability, Great Streets, Technology, and the LA River. These added expenditures will require cut backs in existing departments which may be the reason that one of the budget alternatives ordered by the Garcetti administration required departments to reduce their expenditures by 6%. This would result in a “savings” of $300 million, significantly more than the projected deficit.
Leaving aside the self-serving interests of our elected officials, will the City and its four million residents be better off with an election cycle that coincides with State and Federal elections?
Supporters claim consolidated elections will save the City money. But this is not necessarily true as Garcetti said that the County’s charges for running our elections would most likely exceed the City’s current costs.
The cost to run a campaign for City office would increase dramatically as candidates would need to spend considerably more in advertising and outreach to reach the besieged voters who will be bombarded by messages from County, State, and Federal candidates. This would favor wealthy candidates or those backed by the public unions or other special interests.
This would result in City Hall being more like Sacramento where big money and special interests rule.
Our ability to focus on local candidates and issues that are important to Angelenos would be diminished by high profile races. How would a candidate for our City Council be able to attract our attention when we are focused on the high profile races for President, Governor, US Senate, Congress, State Senate, State Assembly, and County Supervisor? And this does not include numerous high profile ballot measures.
Finally, do you trust Herb Wesson and the City Council to act in the best interests of the City and its residents?
We will not be better off with consolidated, even year elections.
Vote NO on Charter Amendment 1.
● Note: Here are Garcetti’s comments about the consolidation of the City’s elections with the County, State, and Federal governments in November of even years.
Vol 13 Issue 18
Pub: Mar 3, 2015