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Greuel Drops Effort to Win L.A. City Council Presidency

Some on panel are happy to avoid a fight. Incumbent Padilla remains sole candidate.

June 21, 2003|Jessica Garrison and Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel announced Friday that she was dropping her bid to become council president, leaving current President Alex Padilla as the only declared candidate for the post.

Barring the appearance of a last-minute candidate, Greuel's decision appeared to bring to a close a political contest that has percolated behind the scenes at City Hall for months.

Council members will vote to elect a president in the first week of July, when four newly elected members take their seats.

Padilla was cautious in his reaction to Greuel's announcement, saying he is not taking the vote for granted.

"I'm still working hard each and every day to try and earn the support of as many of my colleagues as possible," Padilla said.

Some on the council, however, said it had become clear in recent days that Padilla had the support of a majority of his colleagues.

Many said they were grateful to Greuel for stepping down graciously and avoiding a battle.

"This reflects a desire not to have a divisive fight," said Councilman Eric Garcetti, a Padilla backer. "I think it's a good thing for everybody that we can achieve unity."

Though the post is little noticed outside City Hall, the president has tremendous power to set the body's agenda and chart its course. The president also serves as acting mayor when the mayor is out of the state.

The late John Ferraro, who held the post for much of his 35 years on the council, used the position to broker significant deals, from salvaging the Staples Center development to persuading LAPD Chief Daryl F. Gates to retire after the 1992 riots.

Some council members said they were impressed with Padilla's leadership during the council's recent budget battle with Mayor James K. Hahn and look forward to working with him further.

Greuel, who is pregnant and is scheduled to give birth to a boy at the end of this month, began campaigning for the post in April. In a written statement, she did not offer a specific reason for her withdrawal and did not indicate whether she would support Padilla.

"After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek the presidency," the statement said. "In making this decision, I am confident that I will better serve the residents of the Second Council District," she added.

She declined to comment further.

Her decision surprised some and disappointed others.

"That's too bad," said Councilwoman Jan Perry when she learned of Greuel's decision. "I think it's a good thing to also see new leadership come in."

Perry said she had backed Greuel and was not ready to commit to Padilla or another council member.

"It's not over until it's over," Perry said.

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