State Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge) said Monday that he will run for mayor of the proposed San Fernando Valley city, becoming the first candidate for an office that will exist only if voters decide to break the region off from Los Angeles on the same Nov. 5 ballot as the mayor's race.
Richman, a multimillionaire physician who spent $425,000 of his own money on his Assembly campaign two years ago, plans a formal announcement of his candidacy Wednesday. His platform will focus on what he termed the city of Los Angeles' years of neglect of the Valley.
"I have a lifelong history in the San Fernando Valley, and our community is very important to me," said Richman, 48. "I'm fully committed to Valley independence and I will be working to address that goal in the months ahead."
The freshman lawmaker also is seeking reelection to the Legislature. If he wins both offices and the Valley secedes, he will resign from the Assembly and a special election will be held to fill his seat, Richman said.
Meanwhile, the group spearheading the Valley secession drive issued its first fund-raising appeal Monday, seeking $1,000 each from 25,000 prospective donors. The letter from the San Fernando Valley Independence Committee was signed by eight prominent secession supporters, including former Arco Chairman Lodwrick Cook, county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, former Assemblyman Richard Katz and former city Ethics Commissioner David Fleming.
In the mayor's race, Richman might face state Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Sylmar), who said Monday that he continues to seriously consider a run, even though he has not decided whether to support secession itself.
Alarcon also is vying for another term in the state Senate, and a special election would be held to fill his legislative seat, if needed. He said Richman is a "fine person," but that his Republican views may be in conflict with those of most Valley voters. In the Valley, 51.4% of voters are Democrats and 28.7% are Republicans.
The assemblyman, however, noted that the mayor's office is nonpartisan. He described himself as a moderate who supports abortion rights and opposes school vouchers, and has been active in promoting health care for the poor.
By staking out a pro-secession agenda early, Richman hopes to take a large chunk of votes from Alarcon.
"Voters know the difference between a candidate with past enthusiastic support for secession and one who gets dragged there with fingernails scraping the ground," said Dan Schnur, a Republican strategist who is working for the Richman campaign.
The candidate has lived in the Valley since he was 3 years old. He served for more than two years as an appointee to the city Community Redevelopment Commission during the Richard Riordan administration.
In the Legislature, he has served on committees overseeing health issues and the state's energy problems.
A founder of the Lakeside Medical Group, Richman specialized in general internal medicine.
On Monday, former state Assemblywoman Paula Boland formally announced her candidacy for the north Valley's 3rd District council seat. Boland, a Republican, is the most prominent candidate so far to seek a Valley council post.