Surrounding himself with the City Council's three African American members, mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti traveled Saturday morning to Leimert Park — the historic heart of black Los Angeles — for a rally in which he sought to galvanize support among black voters.
Speaking before a crowd of just a few dozen people, Garcetti presented himself as a candidate with strong family ties to South Los Angeles, speaking about the barbershop his grandfather owned a few miles away.
He also touched on issues that resonate with many black Angelenos, making references to crime and a debate over whether the park will be a stop on a future rail line.
"We've got a community that deserves transit and a transit stop right here, wondering if they will get the sort of equity and opportunities that other places have," Garcetti said, drawing applause. "And we can brag about this being the safest year in Los Angeles since Dwight Eisenhower was president, but tell that to a community that still hears gunshots every weekend."
Garcetti is banking on the endorsements of the three black council members — Bernard C. Parks, Jan Perry and Council President Herb Wesson — to help his chances of winning the black vote on election day. Garcetti will face City Controller Wendy Greuel in the May 21 runoff.
Perry, who enjoyed strong support in South Los Angeles in her failed bid for mayor, praised Garcetti for his work as a council member on affordable housing, job creation and public safety.
Saying he stood on "a stage full of warriors," Garcetti went after Greuel. "If you don't get out there and run on results, then you're running on rhetoric," he said. "This campaign is a contrast.... This is a stage full of problem-solvers."
For her part, after rallying supporters in San Pedro, Greuel took a dig at Garcetti and the council members who back him. The fact that he has the backing of nearly every council member who has made an endorsement, she said, was evidence that Garcetti represents the status quo, whereas she has been critical of the council in her role as city controller.