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 day 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.