The Times endorsed studio executive Christine Essel in the Sept. 22 special election to fill Los Angeles' 2nd District City Council seat. Essel was one of the two top finishers and is competing in Tuesday's runoff against Assemblyman Paul Krekorian; we continue to believe she is the best candidate, and we reiterate our endorsement and hope voters cast their ballots for her. But most of all, we hope they vote.
Even in regular city elections only a fraction of voters bother making a choice, and turnout this time -- in a special runoff for a single council district -- could make this election feel like a semiprivate affair. By way of explanation, nonvoters often claim that any candidate will quickly become the servant of powerful development, labor or political interests that pursue their own agendas without regard for residents' quality of life or the future of the city. But that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if a handful of voters elects a candidate, that handful gains a measure of clout that cannot be ignored. After all, every politician wants to be reelected.
We are optimistic that Essel's experience in private industry as a Paramount Pictures Corp. executive, and her public-sector work as a former member of the Airport Commission and chairwoman of the Community Redevelopment Agency under mayors Tom Bradley and Richard Riordan, give her a breadth of knowledge and skills to serve the people of her district wisely. We believe she understands the distinction between responsible growth, which creates needed jobs and keeps neighborhoods vibrant, and development abuse, which degrades neighborhoods for the benefit of well-connected interests with the power to cut corners at City Hall. We believe she is the most likely of the two candidates to press successfully for the interests of her constituents in the political rough-and-tumble that is Los Angeles politics.