Nick Patsaouras, president of the DWP Board of Commissioners and a long-time watchdog on public spending, disclosed Monday that he will run for City Controller in the March 3 primary.
Patsaouras, who played a key role in the Villaragosa Administration keeping costs under control and overseeing construction of the new LAPD Headquarters as well as performing similar roles for the County-USC Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Hospital, will challenge Councilwoman Wendy Greuel for Controller for the right to succeed Laura Chick, who is termed out.
In recent months, Patsaouras has emerged as an advocate for DWP ratepayers and championed creation of an office within the utility specifically to serve as the equivalent of an ombudsman or inspector general.
“I don’t believe in coronations. We need to discuss the issues,” he said a phone interview.
“We need someone in the Controller’s Office who has the experience, technical knowledge and ability to make sure we’re using the best management practices and look after the public’s money..
“We have to think about our kids and the future of the city.”
Greuel, a two-term councilwoman from the East Valley, appeared to be headed towards an easy primary victory without significant opposition until Patsaouras entered the race.
His decision to run for controller caught City Hall insiders by surprise.
“There’s a lot of very surprised people tonight — especially Wendy Greuel,” said one source. “This is not the way it’s supposed to work in LA nowadays. Wendy and Nick travel in the same circles and have many of the same friends and political allies. Given Nick’s personality, this will be a helluva of a race.”
A Greek immigrant who worked his way through community college and CSUN, he brings 30 years of experience in key roles in city government from the Tom Bradley years through to today.
He runs a successful electrical engineering company and is president of Polis Builders, a developer of mixed use projects.
Patsaouras was a key figure in the MTA and its predecessor transportation agencies and helped drive the subway and light rail projects. The Patsaouras Transit Plaza near Union Station is named in his honor.
He and his wife Sylvia are long-time residents of the Valley and have two grown children.