Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the new edition of Nina Royal’s North Valley Reporter.
With the money rolling into their war chests, Chris Essel and
Paul Krekorian are on track to raise 10 times as much as the other eight
candidates City Council District 2.
That makes them, in the eyes of the press and pundits, heavy
favorites to come out of the Sept. 22 special election first and second and to
face off in the December runoff.
How can voters choose between a candidate that has
represented the entertainment industry and downtown development interests for
years and a state Assembly leader who bears a full share of responsibility for
putting California in such dire
It may well come to a choice between Essel, with heavy
backing from the increasingly unpopular mayor, the powerful DWP union IBEW, and
the same developer and Hollywood interests, and Krekorian who is backed by City
Hall unions and the Democratic Party organization.
Before voters from Sunland-Tujunga to Sherman Oaks face that
choice, they first need to ask themselves if either of them is qualified to represent
their values, their needs – whether either of them will stand up to the City Hall
machine and fight for what the residents in CD2 want?
Neither of them lacks the intelligence or experience to
serve CD2. The biggest problem they share is they are carpetbaggers, moving
into the district just in time to run for the Council seat left vacant by Wendy
Greuel’s election as City Controller.
From her background as a lobbyist for Paramount Studio,
leadership role in the Central City Association and service on the Community
Redevelopment Agency Board, Essel on the face of it would have been more suited
to seek election in the CD5 Westside area earlier this year. But she chose not
to run, preferring to seek office from a district that her tenuous ties date
back to her youth.
Krekorian too has youthful roots in the Valley though his
political career is based on school board and state Legislative service to Burbank
and Glendale with a small portion
of his Assembly District stretching across the border into the Valley
He is an ambitious and smart politician, rising rapidly to a
top post in the Democratic Assembly leadership. Concerns about Krekorian focus on
his role in going along for the rise as the Legislature drove the state down the
road to a financial catastrophe.
If he couldn’t stand up to the people’s interests in Sacramento,
can he do any better at City Hall in the face of a tight little power structure
that demands near total obedience, can he tell his backers in the SEIU they have
to take some tough medicine to keep LA from crashing into bankruptcy?
If not Essel or Krekorian, who?
Can LA school board member and Van Nuys neighborhood
prosecutor Tamar Galatzan raise enough money and overcome her own negatives –
LAUSD’s failures, her former support from the mayor, her husband’s role at VICA
in support of Home Depot – and force her into the runoff?
Can any of the other seven community candidates, each with
their own bases but lacking campaign cash, emerge from the pack and somehow
beat the odds?
It’s clear they will not unite behind a single that would
make the emergence of a community candidate more likely and there’s no sign yet
of any of them leaping ahead of the pack.
So voters who want to make a difference face a tough choice:
Do they vote for the community candidate they know and respect even though it’s
unlikely their vote will matter or do they choose between Essel, Krekorian and
Galatzan and affect the outcome.
My only advice is to read all you can about the candidates,
their records, their statements, where their funding comes from and meet the
candidates if you can so you can make up your own minds.
Just know this: Even one Council member who consistently
stood up for his or her constituents, who stood up to the machine, could make a
The community stopped the machine on Measure B in March and
elected the City Attorney in May. Electing a Council member committed to the
community in the CD2 election will send City Hall a powerful message and
inspire the growing effort to change the city’s direction and save LA from the
destructive course it’s on.