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In campaign shakeup, Greuel hires former Villaraigosa aide

March 23, 2013|By Michael Finnegan

After a series of missteps in her run for mayor of Los Angeles, City Controller Wendy Greuel has hired a  senior aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as her new campaign manager for the final weeks before the May runoff.

Janelle Erickson, who is on leave of absence as Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff, will take over day-to-day management of the campaign.

Rose Kapolczynski, who had been playing that role, will stay with the campaign as a senior strategist.

The replacement of a campaign manager  two months before an election is highly unusual. It is an implicit acknowledgment by Greuel that her campaign has not run as smoothly as she believes it should.

Greuel has also hired another former aide, Jim Dantona, as her policy director. Until now, the campaign did not have one. Candidates often rely on policy directors to shape their most significant proposals.

The only major policy initiative announced by Greuel was a plan to hire several thousand police officers, firefighters and paramedics. It clashed with Greuel’s central message that she was a tough fiscal conservative who would get the city’s finances under control. It also sparked private criticism from Greuel supporters.

In a statement released Saturday evening, Greuel cast the changes in a positive light.  “I’m thrilled that we are expanding our campaign team for the general election to join strong leaders such as Rose and John," she said, alluding to John Shallman,  her other senior strategist.   “We’ve made a lot of progress in our campaign – and I know what we need to do in this final push to May 21."

Shallman said Kapolczynski “did a great job to get us through the runoff, and it’s a new campaign.”

Greuel’s hiring of Erickson and Dantona, along with her new field consultant, Sue Burnside, reunites key players of her campaigns for City Council.

“We’re happy and excited to have the band back together,” Shallman said.

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Twitter: @finneganlatimes

michael.finneganl@latimes.com

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