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L.A.'s March election brings a flood of candidates

Nearly 100 people file to run for city offices. The races for mayor, controller and six council seats lack incumbents. Two councilmen and the city attorney, meanwhile, are hoping to keep their posts.

November 11, 2012|By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
  • Among the 14 people intending to run for Los Angeles mayor are Councilwoman Jan Perry, left, former prosecutor Kevin James, Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel.
Among the 14 people intending to run for Los Angeles mayor are Councilwoman… (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles…)

Ninety-two people have filed papers to run for city offices in the March 5 Los Angeles election, with three-fourths of them angling for seats on the 15-member City Council, according to a list posted Saturday by the city clerk.

With Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stepping down next year, 14 people are seeking to replace him, including City Controller Wendy Greuel, council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, and former prosecutor Kevin James. Six people filed to run for city controller, a position being vacated by Greuel. Three are seeking to unseat City Atty. Carmen Trutanich: police and firefighter attorney Greg Smith, lawyer-advocate Noel Weiss and Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles).

A total of 68 people turned in papers saying they intend to run for the eight open council seats. That flood of interest was caused in large part by term limits, which will force the mayor and five council members to step down next year. Mayors are allowed to serve two four-year terms; council members can serve three.

"Whenever there's a seat open, it's a field day," said Robert Stern, who helped draft the city's campaign finance law. "It's 12 years of a very high salary and lots of power."

The deadline for candidates to file a declaration of intent was noon Saturday. The biggest response came from people seeking to replace Garcetti, who must stop representing his Echo Park-to-Hollywood council district after 12 years. Twenty people filed papers to run for his seat.

"Frankly, I think it's great," said Garcetti, who does not plan to endorse a replacement until the May runoff election, when the top two candidates remain. "It's a reflection of just how dynamic this district has become."

The candidate pool could shrink over the next month as some contenders fail to collect the signatures required to get on the ballot. But with six of the eight council races lacking an incumbent, the number of candidates will almost certainly be the largest in at least 12 years.

In South Los Angeles, 12 people are seeking to replace Perry, who was first elected to the council in 2001. In the west San Fernando Valley, eight filed papers to run for the seat being vacated by Councilman Dennis Zine, who was also elected in 2001 and is a candidate for city controller.

Eight people are aiming for the northeast Valley post held by Councilman Richard Alarcon, who was first elected in 1993 and is finishing his last term. Seven are seeking to replace Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is retiring because of illness after two terms representing his coastal district. And five are running for the Eastside seat held by Councilman Ed Reyes, who also faces term limits.

Two incumbent council members also face challengers. Four people are looking to unseat Councilman Paul Koretz, who is running for reelection and represents a heavily Westside district. And two are challenging Councilman Joe Buscaino, who was elected in January to represent the district that stretches from Watts to San Pedro and is running for his first full four-year term.

In addition to the city contests, 23 people are running for three board seats at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Sixteen are seeking spots on the seven-member Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

The city clerk's list of declared candidates can be found at cityclerk.lacity.org/election/Candidates/declarat.pdf.

david.zahniser@latimes.com

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