Supervisor, 1st District: Gloria Molina, whose district covers much of the eastern portion of the county and stretches west to touch Silver Lake, acknowledges that she and her colleagues defer to each other on matters of turf, to the county's detriment. When she first joined the board, in 1991, she brought a fresh sense of outrage and challenge to a closed and often secretive culture. But she often went overboard, intentionally embarrassing department chiefs in public to make a point. Still, none of the three candidates who are running against her has even close to the qualifications in city, state and federal government that she had when she took the job, and none of them is qualified to take on the job today.
Supervisor, 3rd District: Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents much of L.A.'s Westside and parts of the San Fernando Valley, sometimes appears beaten down by his three terms. At his best, he is pragmatic and conscientious, saying no to costly programs and demanding reform of the county's seemingly endless string of flailing departments. He acknowledges that a county government with five people in charge is a government with no one in charge. At his worst, he takes too long to call things as he sees them. He has been a sharp critic of the Health Department and the Probation Department, a gentler critic of the sheriff, but he ultimately must be held partly responsible for the disasters that were King/Drew, the jails and juvenile detention.
Yet as with Baca and Molina, neither of his challengers can do the job. Perhaps in his next term, Yaroslavsky will support a restructuring of county government to make him, and his colleagues, more accountable and effective.