Matt Szabo, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said Wednesday… (Patrick T. Fallon, Los Angeles…)
The traffic jam that is the race to replace Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti saw yet another candidate step forward, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's No. 2 policy advisor saying Wednesday that he will run for the seat.
Matt Szabo, 36, became the 13th person to launch a campaign in the 13th District, which includes all or part of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood and Historic Filipinotown. As Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff, the Hollywood resident handled such issues as the budget crisis, labor relations, the Occupy L.A. encampment outside City Hall and redistricting — the once-a-decade process of producing new maps for the council's 15 voting districts.
"I know how the city works, I know how it doesn't work and I know how to make it work," said Szabo, who submitted a four-page resignation letter to the mayor.
Garcetti is running for mayor in the March election and must leave his council seat because of term limits. Villaraigosa is also termed out next year.
Because council members can serve up to a dozen years under term limits, the last time the 13th District had an election without an incumbent was 2001. That, in turn, has created a "pent-up demand" among ambitious political types, said Raphael Sonenshein, political science professor at Cal State L.A.
With such a crowded field, any candidate will need only a small fraction of the electorate to make the runoff election, when the top two vote-getters square off, Sonenshein said. That, in turn, could attract even more people to the race, he added.
"The more candidates you have, the more reason there is to run," he said.
When he got into politics more than a decade ago, Szabo was a registered Republican working for a Republican mayor, Richard Riordan. More recently, he re-registered as a Democrat and came to be viewed favorably by the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which saw him as a check on the power of City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, who has repeatedly advised Villaraigosa to use layoffs and employee concessions to balance the books.
Szabo, who earned nearly $170,000 annually in his post, said Friday will be his last day in the mayor's office.
Among the other 13th District candidates are Emile Mack, a former assistant fire chief; Mitch O'Farrell, a longtime Garcetti deputy; Josh Post, an attorney for Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris; Jose Sigala, a former aide to Councilman Richard Alarcón; John Choi, a former member of the city's Board of Public Works; Alexander Cruz De Ocampo, foundation manager for the Saban Family Foundation; and BongHwan Kim, general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which oversees the city's network of neighborhood councils.
Also in the running are Sam Kbushyan, a member of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council; writer Thomas Marshall Penick; businessman and actor Scott Crawford; real estate agent Reuben Martinez, and attorney Stefano Formica.