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Wendy Greuel's Ties To Tom Bradley Recognized In His Old Neighborhood

Paresh Dave |
March 3, 2013 | 2:03 a.m. PST

Executive Director

Greuel, left, posing with fellow politicians in 2010. (Lord Jim/Flickr)
Greuel, left, posing with fellow politicians in 2010. (Lord Jim/Flickr)
Since announcing her candidacy for mayor two years ago, Wendy Greuel has lengthened her hair, branded herself as a leader for all of L.A. and changed the colors of her campaign logo from the patriotic palette of red, white and blue to the diverse set of blue, green, white and orange.

She was the first major candidate to formalize a campaign, the first to air a television ad and the first and only candidate so far to see independent groups spend more than $1 million in support. Greuel also became a city employee years before the other candidates. And at every opportunity during the 24 months before Tuesday’s mayoral primary, she’s promoted the time she spent working for Mayor Tom Bradley in the late 80s and early 90s.

Commentators say the connection to Bradley, the only black mayor in the city’s history, is an attempt to ensure she captures a majority of the African-American vote. African-Americans could account for 10 percent to 20 percent of ballots cast in Tuesday's election. But a visit to Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza this week revealed mixed attitudes about Greuel in an area Bradley lived in and helped revitalize.

Tina Bradford received help with community programs from councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jan Perry. When Bradford organized community clean-ups, Perry and her aides would bring along trash bags and rakes and then make sure all the bags were collected afterward. But Bradford said she’s been captivated by Greuel.

“She found a lot of waste and all that missing money,” Bradford said. She said the message about working for Bradley was a strong one, too.

“He was for the people and it’s good that she worked for him and saw that,” Bradford said.

For Terry Gray, an event years ago weighed on him most. 

“I heard Garcetti give a speech at L.A. City College when I was working there,” Gray said. “He’s a good man and well-educated.”

The fight over whether Greuel or Garcetti gets an endorsement from Perry could become a major battle later this month.

"Greuel probably presumes if she's in a runoff that a pivotal role might be played by African-American voters," said Raphael Sonenshein, head of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles. "How she communicates within black community won't be a simple thing."

Though Rayvon Johnson couldn't recall Greuel's name, he said he's seen plenty of ads where Greuel talks about the waste she's found in city government during her three years as controller. But he hasn't seen any of Garcetti's ads and remains undecided.

The Bradley factor, "it kind of weighs into thinking about her," he said.

Johnson was in elementary school when Bradley was in his final term.

"Everything I remember about him is good though," he said.

Shirley Jones said she was impressed with the young Eric Garcetti, who was born a decade after the 51-year-old Greuel. She liked that Greuel seems the most organized. But her vote ultimately went to Jan Perry.

“I hate to say it, but she’s a woman and she’s black,” Jones said. “I don’t believe she’ll make the runoff, but I wanted to give her the small chance.”

Only one out of a dozen people had yet to decide on who would get their vote.

"I'll go through all the fliers in the mail this weekend," Charles Chisolm said.

Asked what group's mailers might influence him the most, he said motel workers and anyone other group that represents the working class.

Patricia H. couldn't get over the fact that Wendy Greuel's roots lie in the San Fernando Valley, so she voted for Garcetti.

"I watched a debate, and she just hasn't changed my mind that she's anything more than just someone who represents the Valley," Patricia said.

Larry Goins thought Greuel was a Republican. Told she wasn't, Goins said he still plans to vote for Perry because she's a more familiar face.

"I like the idea Greuel has worked for Bradley," he said. "It entered my mind -- it made me think -- but it didn't sway me."

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