The Los Angeles mayor’s race is one of the most important local races in the entire nation. It presents the opportunity for an individual to control policy for one of the biggest cities in the country with one of the biggest budgets in the country. Mayorships in cities like Los Angeles are not just ends to themselves. They are also stepping stones for bigger and better things in the political world.
In the 2017 race, there were many candidates for mayor. This is true because running for mayor is often seen as an exercise in attention. There are some candidates who are serious about winning a seat. There are other people who are mostly concerned only with getting attention for themselves or for a cause. For this reason, the mayor race in LA is often filled with unconventional candidates who do not have a great shot at making any noise on election day. In 2017, there were plenty of those, including a factory worker and a few political activists.
There were some serious candidates that must be considered, of course. Eric Garcetti ran for mayor again. He had the advantage of being the incumbent candidate after having won a previous election for mayor of Los Angeles. Garcetti is a Jewish man and also Mexican-American. He served on the city council for quite some time, and has been one of the most influential minority men in Los Angeles. He campaigned on a platform about equality for all people and using the city government of Los Angeles to make the city a better place to live for all people. Importantly, he ran on the legacy of his decision to raise the minimum wage of the city to $15 during his previous term. That move has been slowly implemented in the city, and it has made Garcetti the economic equality candidate during a time when the very progressive city of Los Angeles was looking for such. A number of different groups supported his run for mayor. Among them was the LA League of Conservation Voters, noting the fact that the candidate has an excellent record on protecting the environment. In addition to that, he was supported by a number of different unions. He also had the support of the LA Young Democrats group and became a popular candidate with young people at large. Given that Garcetti was the very popular mayor of the city, it should not be a surprise that he had broad support.
Y.J. Draiman also ran for mayor, though his candidacy did not have as much success. He is a businessman who has been in LA for many years. While he did not come with a lot of political experience, he expected his business experience to carry him in the election. His platform was all about jobs. He thought he would be able to use his former business experience to put into place policies that would put the residents of Los Angeles back to work. One way in which his campaign was different was that he took a negative view of the city, while Garcetti had a more positive view of the current state of the city.
In this particular assignment, I learned many things about the ways the LA political system works. By looking deep into Garcetti’s campaign, it is easy to see the way in which he was able to use his existing post as mayor to help his campaign. While he did not use the bully pulpit, so to speak, he did use his position as mayor to get a lot of support from existing groups and voters. This assignment taught me about these practical elements of the system.