Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti said that if elected mayor, he… (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)
In one of the first major policy speeches in a mayoral campaign that so far has been dominated by fundraising pitches, Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti laid out a plan to create jobs and reform a City Hall system he called "broken."
Garcetti said that if elected he would put an emphasis on expanding the green technology sector and on "growing the shores of Silicon Beach."
Speaking to a crowd of about 200 at Los Angeles City College on Thursday, Garcetti pledged to bring computer programming classes to schools and to create an office that would partner with universities to encourage entrepreneurial graduates to stay in the city.
Bringing about those changes will require a shift in the culture of City Hall, Garcetti said. "Right now the priorities are on cuts and taxes — what to cut and how to tax people," he said. "That's wrong."
Ongoing budget woes tied to the economic recession and rising city employee costs have led the council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to cut services, raise fees on parking tickets and slash the city workforce by thousands. Garcetti, as council president from 2006 to 2011, played a major role as part of the city's labor negotiations committee.
His two top rivals in the mayoral race — City Controller Wendy Greuel, who served on the council for seven years, and Councilwoman Jan Perry — also had roles in the cutbacks.
Garcetti said residents have doubts about whether City Hall can "keep up with cleaning our streets, paving our streets, keeping our streets safe," and pledged to bring more accountability to city government. He said he would require department heads to reapply for their jobs and would hire a chief technology officer who would help "hold your government accountable."
Even as he decried the culture of City Hall, Garcetti touted his record, including his role in passing an ordinance that requires banks that do business with the city to disclose detailed data on loans and foreclosures, and his introduction of a smartphone application to report graffiti and other problems.
Garcetti boasted about bringing economic revitalization to several neighborhoods he represents, including Atwater Village and Hollywood, which he said "is back" after decades of decline.
The audience included many people from his district. When Garcetti mentioned Echo Park and Silver Lake, cheers erupted from the crowd.
Garcetti, son of former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti, emphasized his deep roots in the city, recalling days growing up in the San Fernando Valley when his family would pile into the car to get chili burgers at Tommy's. "It was a simple kind of life, but it was the kind of life that we all dream of," he said. With the recession, he said, that dream "is slipping away."
Audience member Marguerite Womack said she liked Garcetti's focus on jobs. She hasn't decided who to support in the mayoral race, and she's looking for a candidate who will make tackling poverty a priority.
She came to do her homework in the race and brought her son Kaleialoha Nereu, 29, along with her.
Womack said she wants her to son "to be a good voter. And this is how we do it."