If the candidates alone got to select the next mayor of Los Angeles, City Councilwoman Jan Perry would win the city’s top job in a landslide.
Asked by Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, who moderated a forum with the five leading candidates at his synagogue in Westwood on Jan. 29, who they would vote for if they couldn’t choose themselves, all four of Perry’s competitors said she would get their support.
The candidates gave varied reasons for selecting Perry: City Controller Wendy Greuel cited Perry’s record of creating jobs downtown and noted that Perry – like Greuel – would give Angelenos the chance to elect the city’s first woman mayor. City Councilman Eric Garcetti said Perry inspired him by fighting for the causes in which she believes. Kevin James, the lone Republican in the race, said he’d vote for Perry because she exposed “back-room dealings” at City Hall, and Emanuel Pleitez, a technology executive, also picked Perry for her “courage” in admitting mistakes.
[Watch the entire debate at jewishdebates.com]
Wolpe’s question was just one of a number intended to put the mayoral hopefuls off of their pre-scripted stump speeches. The candidates had met for a televised debate just 24 hours earlier and at least 18 more forums and debates are scheduled to take place between now and the primary election on March 5.
Despite the rabbi’s efforts, each candidate stayed mostly on message.
Greuel highlighted her work as controller in identifying waste, fraud and abuse, and pledged to be a mayor “for all of Los Angeles,” a slogan that also appears in her first TV advertisement, posted on her website earlier on Tuesday.
Garcetti pointed to his success at revitalizing Hollywood, pledged (along with every other candidate) to abolish the city’s gross receipts tax, and said he would continue his work to improve public education in the city, even if the Mayor’s powers in that arena are limited.
Perry said she would follow the example of former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, by advancing her agenda “in a hands-on way,” taking ideas to community members first. “By the time you bring it back into City Hall for a vote, you build energy, you build momentum, you build consensus and community support,” she said.
James, a first-time candidate, kept his message as clear as it has been from the start: Los Angeles is a city in the throes of a “leadership crisis,” he said, and the elected officials on the stage should be held responsible, not given a promotion.
“They are City Hall,” James said on Tuesday evening. “It is broken. They broke it.”
Pleitez sounded a similar note in his closing statement. “If you’re happy with the results and the experience, you have three great choices, and you should vote for them,” he said, referring to Greuel, Garcetti and Perry. “I present to you an alternative.”
Pleitez, for the record, was the candidate who Perry picked, in her response to the question that won her so much support from her opponents. Perry said she admired the 30-year-old candidate’s enthusiasm and intelligence.
Speaking to a reporter after the debate, she didn’t dwell much on her opponents’ kind words.
“The rabbi made this an unusual evening in the way he conducted the forum, and I really enjoyed it,” Perry said.
For full video of the debate, visit www.jewishjournal.com/debates.