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Villaraigosa Will Be In Chicago For Election Night

Paresh Dave |
November 3, 2012 | 12:28 p.m. PDT

Executive Director

Villaraigosa at a Yes on Prop. 30 campaign event in October. (Xueqiao Ma/Neon Tommy)
Villaraigosa at a Yes on Prop. 30 campaign event in October. (Xueqiao Ma/Neon Tommy)

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will campaign on behalf of President Barack Obama in Florida Sunday and Monday before finishing a travel-filled campaign season in Chicago for the president’s Election Night party.

That means he won’t be at Dodger Stadium, where supporters of L.A. County’s Measure J will be gathering on Election Night. Measure J, which Villaraigosa played a significant role in putting together, would delay the expiration date of a sales tax surcharge in the county by 30 years, to 2069. If approved, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority could borrow money more up front by issuing bonds, expediting the construction of public transit, highway and other transportation infrastructure projects throughout the county.

“There’s times when borrowing for infrastructure projects makes sense,” said Jessica Digiambattista Peters, a transportation policy analyst for the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office. “You can build more infrastructure sooner rather than waiting and having to pay higher interest rates.” 

Villaraigosa was a major campaigner in the fall of 2008 for Measure R, which originally put that sales tax surcharge in place. Measure R barely surpassed the two-thirds vote-threshold needed to pass.

Villaraigosa has been much quieter the past few weeks in regards to Measure J. He — and other politicians — have been kept out of campaign commercials. Matching the “J” in jobs to the “J” in Measure J, the commercials and pitches for Measure J have focused on its ability to create jobs. An exit poll by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University found voters primarily supported Measure R because they thought it would improve the environment.

Experts in transportation policy such as James Moore at the University of Southern California have been skeptical about Measure J’s job creation claims.

“It will create some, and it will preclude some,” he said by email recently. “No one knows which effect will dominate, but my money is on the latter.”

The campaign is being run by Ace Smith. He also led Villaraigosa’s mayoral campaigns and is in charge of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 campaign.

In mid-October, Smith said voters were more concerned about the economy and jobs this year than the environment.

“We have to let voters know about the real, tangible benefits,” he said.

At the time, he said 10 percent of voters were undecided about Measure J. If even a third of them supported the measure, it would easily pass.

City News Service reported Friday the travel plans for Villaraigosa, the co-chair of Obama’s campaign nationally. The mayor will briefly return to Los Angeles on Monday night, so he can vote on Tuesday.

Villaraigosa has been mentioned has possible pick for secretary of Transportation should Obama be voted in for a second term. Secretary Ray LaHood has previously said he would step down at the end of Obama’s first term.

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