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L.A. Mayor-elect Garcetti picks longtime aide as chief of staff

Ana Guerrero, a former community organizer, has been working for Garcetti since 2001, most recently as chief of staff of his City Council office.

June 17, 2013|By David Zahniser and Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times
  • Ana Guerrero is no-nonsense, “fiercely loyal” to Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti and will “almost always be in defense of the little guy,” the current mayor’s deputy chief of staff said.
Ana Guerrero is no-nonsense, “fiercely loyal” to Mayor-elect… (Betsy Annas )

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti on Monday named a former community organizer as the first hire of his administration, picking his longtime City Council aide Ana Guerrero as chief of staff.

Guerrero, 42, has been working for Garcetti since 2001, serving first as his organizing director and the last five years as chief of staff of his council office. Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, she is the daughter of migrant farmworkers and has been a single mother who for nearly a year received public assistance, including food stamps.

A resident of La Crescenta, Guerrero began her career in Northern California with the Sonoma County Organizing Project, helping low- and middle-income families advocate for themselves on such issues as affordable housing. In 1995, she became lead organizer with the United Neighborhoods Organization in Los Angeles, heading up a campaign to help immigrants become naturalized citizens.

Guerrero will "almost always be in defense of the little guy," said Matt Szabo, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who worked closely with Guerrero on the budget. Szabo also described her as no-nonsense and "fiercely loyal" to Garcetti.

"I can't overstate the loyalty factor," Szabo said. "She's tenacious and she knows how to motivate people. The people that work for Eric are highly motivated to work for him. That spilled over into the campaign."

Guerrero said in a statement that she would make sure Garcetti "has the tools he needs to get the job done." Garcetti, for his part, described Guerrero as a key presence as he worked to cut the budget and improve neighborhoods in his district, which stretches from Echo Park to Hollywood.

"There is no one more expert and experienced in making government work better for the people of L.A. than Ana Guerrero," he said in a news release.

Guerrero came to the United States when she was 1 1/2 years old. She studied law at Universidad De La Salle Bajio in Mexico but did not finish her degree, according to Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb. She is now enrolled at Antioch University in Culver City and is seeking to complete a bachelor's degree in liberal arts, Robb said.

Both current and former members of the Villaraigosa administration gave Guerrero high marks. Deputy Mayor Torie Osborn called Guerrero "a natural strategist." Robin Kramer, a former Villaraigosa chief of staff, described her as smart, ethical and the type of public official who reads an entire report instead of the executive summary.

Julie Gutman Dickinson, a former Villaraigosa appointee, said Guerrero "feels the plight of immigrants," including janitors, security officers and hotel workers, who are "trying to organize and earn a living wage."

"She knows how to say 'no' too," said Gutman Dickinson, who advised Villaraigosa on labor issues and served on the Board of Public Works from 2007 to 2010. "She's tough but compassionate."

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