As the Los Angeles mayoral candidates try to gain an edge leading up to the May 21 runoff, the man they hope to replace – termed-out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – had some sharp words for Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti during his final State of the City address Tuesday night.
Villaraigosa, who has not endorsed a candidate in the race, scolded the pair for not paying enough attention to education, which was one of his prime focuses in his early years in office. City Controller Greuel and City Councilman Garcetti countered by saying that they have talked about schools extensively, with Greuel adding that she would release a detailed plan in the coming weeks and Garcetti calling for an education-centered debate. Both candidates had been criticized before the primary for offering few specifics on the city’s ailing school system.
Greuel and Garcetti ramped up their courtship of the African American community in recent days, with Greuel announcing the backing of Rep. Maxine Waters, a powerful endorsement, and Garcetti countering by trumpeting the support of Rep. Karen Bass. Black voters do not make up a substantial share of the electorate, but their propensity to vote in greater numbers than their registration suggests, coupled with the number of black voters up for grabs after Councilwoman Jan Perry failed to make the runoff, make them a vital voting bloc in the runoff election.