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Wendy Greuel enjoying a respite from public life

Wendy Greuel, former L.A. councilwoman and controller, is taking July off to consider her options. But first, her son's birthday.

July 19, 2013|By Seema Mehta
  • Wendy Greuel, shown with husband Dean Schramm while on the mayoral campaign trail, is enjoying a rare month off between losing to Eric Garcetti and leaving her controller's job, and deciding on her next move.
Wendy Greuel, shown with husband Dean Schramm while on the mayoral campaign… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)

For the last nine years, Wendy Greuel, as a Los Angeles councilwoman and later city controller, had to squeeze her son's July 4 birthday party between a slew of parades and patriotic community celebrations.

This holiday, six weeks after losing her bid for mayor and days after leaving her controller post, she was able to devote undivided attention to Thomas' 10th birthday.

"I was able to stay home and swim and have water fights and barbecue," Greuel said during a meandering look back at the campaign and forward at the future over gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at a cafe in Atwater Village.

Greuel appeared relaxed and at peace with her loss to newly inaugurated Mayor Eric Garcetti. She has not shied away from public appearances since losing to Garcetti by eight percentage points May 21. She's returned to the city's political circuit, including an 80th birthday party last month for civic leader and philanthropist Eli Broad.

She's weighing whether to make another run for office or return to life outside of government.

"The good news is I have lots of options and opportunities, to either go into the public sector or the private sector," said Greuel, whose resume includes stints as a DreamWorks executive and an official in President Clinton's administration. "I made it known I would take the month of July off and get my life organized and spend time with my family, which I am doing."

Supporters have encouraged her to run for either termed-out Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's seat or state controller, she said. Nonprofits and universities have offered jobs, she added.

"I'm really going to look and see what's best to contribute to what I think is important to help the city of Los Angeles and this region," she said.

If Greuel decides to run for office, she would enter the race with her highest name recognition ever and a deep and moneyed bench of supporters. And although city voters chose Garcetti, she emerged from the race with fairly positive ratings in polls. At the same time, she may have to temper the "labor candidate" image she gained in the mayoral race, and a second loss could decrease the odds of a future political comeback.

Greuel was reflective, but not regretful, about her failed mayoral campaign.

"Everything's a learning experience," she said, noting that her attorney husband, Dean, told their son that a lawyer who has never lost a case has not litigated many cases. "I think the same holds true for elections."

Supporters such as Clinton, former Gov. Gray Davis and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein all reminded her that they lost elections and ran again, she said.

For now, Greuel is planning a long-deferred family vacation. Through her adult life, she said, she'd always gone from ending one job on Friday to starting a new one the next Monday.

"This is the first time I've taken off any time greater than literally a couple days," she said.

Greuel may be jobless, but she appeared as busy as ever, dashing between meetings.

"This is my time to figure out exactly what I want to do," she said. "I know I will be employed.... The nice thing is to be able to figure out what's the best option for me."

seema.mehta@latimes.com

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