The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to hold a primary election in April to fill the seat left vacant when Zev Yaroslavsky joined the County Board of Supervisors, setting the stage for what is expected to be an expensive, hard-fought election.
The vote also kills a proposal by a coalition of San Fernando Valley and Westside residents and business leaders to appoint an interim replacement to fill the seat until the election.
Although several names have been proposed to fill the six-month vacancy, the council opted against making an appointment partly because there was little consensus on a candidate and because an appointment probably would spark a divisive debate in the council.
The two leading contenders for the temporary slot were Mike Jimenez, a former legislative aide for Yaroslavsky, and Bob Geoghegan, a former deputy to Supervisor Ed Edelman, whose retirement set off the domino effect that created the vacancy for Yaroslavsky, who was elected to the county post in November.
Until a replacement is elected, Avak Keotahian, a longtime legislative analyst, will respond to the day-to-day problems in the district but will have no vote on the council.
Meanwhile, the race for the highly coveted seat is beginning in earnest, with several major candidates already rounding up endorsements and tapping contributors.
The top candidates include Barbara Yaroslavsky, the former councilman's wife; Roberta Weintraub, a former school board member; Jeff Brain, a Sherman Oaks real estate agent; Michael Feuer, the former head of a legal services agency, and Lea Purwin D'Agostino, a deputy district attorney.
Political consultants say Barbara Yaroslavsky has an advantage based on the name recognition built by her husband over his 19 years on the City Council.