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Jewish Journal

L.A. elects first Jewish mayor

by  Tom Tugend

May 22, 2013 | 8:16 am

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti (center) greets supporters during an election night party at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California, May 21. Photo by REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

UPDATE 8:00 am: Eric Garcetti wins the mayoral election with 53% of the vote (181,995 votes), becoming the first Jewish mayor of Los Angeles. Garcetti's opponent, Wendy Greuel, received only 46% (155,497 votes).

Jewish candidates won the other two citywide offices contested in yesterday's election as well. In the race for city attorney, former California Assemblyman Mike Feuer beat incumbent Carmen Trutanich by a wide margin, 62 percent to 38 percent. Ron Galperin, an attorney who has never before held public office, will succeed Greuel as the next city controller. He beat City Councilman Dennis Zine 56 percent to 44 percent.

Los Angeles appeared to be on track to elect Eric Garcetti as its first Jewish mayor in a number of political contests that reflected the city’s diversity, as well as its numerous variations of Jewishness.

Garcetti, 42, and a veteran city councilman, was leading city controller Wendy Greuel by eight points around 2 a.m. Wednesday, with more than half the ballots counted.

He is the son of a Jewish mother and was raised as a Jew. On his father’s side, he is of mixed Italian and Mexican heritage.

Greuel is not Jewish but is married to a Jewish attorney and their nine-year old son attends a Jewish religious school. Both candidates are liberal Democrats and their campaigns were based more on personalities than ideological differences.

Defeated in the earlier primaries was Councilwoman Jan Perry, an African-American and a convert to Judaism.

Jewish candidates for two other citywide offices were well ahead of their opponents. In the race for city attorney, Mike Feuer, a longstanding Jewish community activist, handily beat incumbent Carmen Trutanich, who conceded around midnight.

Also well ahead was Ron Galperin in his bid for city controller. In his campaign literature, particularly when aimed at Jewish voters, he stressed that his parents were Holocaust survivors who had fought for Israel in the 1948 War of Independence.

Los Angeles’ 600,000 Jews make up the second largest Jewish community in the United States, but are only six percent of the city’s roughly 4 million residents. However, they represent close to 20 percent of those actually casting ballots in municipal elections, which are marked by low voter turnout. Many Latino and Asian residents are recent immigrants and non-citizens, who are ineligible to vote.

Staff writer Jonah Lowenfeld contributed to this report.

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