Perhaps nowhere in Los Angeles are voters more eagerly waiting to cast ballots in the April 10 primary election than the 13th Council District. Its citizens have been without representation in City Hall since soon after former Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg was elected to the state Assembly in November.
Goldberg was popular in the district, which sprawls from Hollywood through Silver Lake, Echo Park, Atwater and Glassell Park to Mount Washington, north of downtown. She reflected the proudly progressive politics of the district's many young urban professionals, as well as a large gay community and many blue-collar immigrants.
Thirteen veteran politicians and community activists are in the race to fill Goldberg's seat. At least five are major candidates who can credibly argue they would be effective successors, not just because they share Goldberg's liberal politics but because they know the district and its needs. The two who can claim the closest ties to Goldberg's legacy are the former council member's brother, lawyer Art Goldberg, and one of her former top aides, Conrado Terrazas. Another notable in the race is college instructor Eric Garcetti, who offers refreshing idealism to go with his familiar name; he is the son of Gil Garcetti, the former Los Angeles County district attorney. Former Assemblyman Scott Wildman, who has represented parts of the district in the state Legislature, claims his four years there are evidence of how effective he would be in City Hall.
Michael Woo, the urban planner who represented most of the 13th District during a stint on the City Council in the 1980s and '90s, seeks to reclaim a seat he vacated eight years ago to run unsuccessfully against Richard Riordan for mayor.
This is a stellar field. Garcetti's idealism and Terrazas' grass-roots savvy are especially commendable, and we urge both to seek public office again--preferably in a post with a more forgiving learning curve.
It is because of his experience in city government that the best choice for the 13th District is Mike Woo. Not only does he know City Hall well, but his experience has now been enhanced by maturity.
Woo was the city's youngest council member when he was first elected, in 1985, and sometimes it showed. But Woo ran a credible race against Riordan in 1993 and has since worked hard on public policy issues, especially low-cost housing. In this era of term limits, every member of the council Woo served with will have left office by 2003, a fact that could make Woo the most experienced council member.
The choice faced by voters of the 13th District is a cheerful one, with so many solid candidates, and it is likely there will be a June runoff for the seat. But in the large primary election field, no other candidate is as well prepared for the job as Mike Woo.