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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Garcetti Or Greuel: Does It Really Matter?

Sara Newman |
May 20, 2013 | 11:57 a.m. PDT

News Editor

 (Neon Tommy) In such a dynamic city, it's a shame we don't have someone more inspiring to vote for. (Neon Tommy)
(Neon Tommy) In such a dynamic city, it's a shame we don't have someone more inspiring to vote for. (Neon Tommy)
About two months ago I requested a new voter registration form to change my address from my home address to my USC address specifically so that I could vote in the Los Angeles mayoral election.

As the election drew nearer, I kept glancing at the registration paper on my desk, feeling relatively uninspired. Both City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti stink of politics. 

Their proposed policies are nearly identical, yet each candidate’s personal desire to wear the title of "Mayor" has played a huge role in the collection of a record-breaking $33 million, according to the LA Times.

As a young, civically involved resident I would love to be rooting for one of the candidates, but after two years of campaigning and millions of dollars, all I truly feel is apathy. With only one day until the election itself, I still don’t know which candidate to support. 

I am not alone in this struggle to differentiate one candidate from the other. In the most recent poll conducted by USC’s Price School of Policy in conjunction with the LA Times, Garcetti maintained his very slight lead over Greuel at 48 to 41 percent. His lead has been consistent, but narrow, failing to show a genuine preference by the city’s constituents.  

Even my friends who have served on the Greuel campaign and founded Trojans for Wendy Greuel hardly care about tomorrow’s outcome.

In such a dynamic, creative city it’s a shame that we don’t have someone more inspiring to vote for.

Like many voters, improving the Los Angeles Unified School District is an issue dear to my heart, so education policies could be a decisive factor for me. But Garcetti and Greuel seem to be in agreement on major issues facing our public school system.

In their final debate, Greuel claimed, "there's probably no other subject where my opponent and I differ more than on the issue of education." Yet, as the debate progressed, their fundamental similarities became impossible to ignore. Both candidates avoided controversy, supporting popular ideas such as providing breakfast to students and eliminating suspensions for “willful defiance.” 

Current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gained fame, if not praise, for taking risks in order to bring much needed changes to LAUSD’s education systems, but unfortunately neither mayoral candidate seems willing to put themselves out there to say anything different. Yes, the Los Angeles Unified School District teachers union prefers Garcetti while education reformers support Greuel, but this is only due to speculations, not actual differences in policy proposals.  

One key difference that seems to stand out between the candidates is their attitude towards development.Garcetti has a track record of embracing most expansion projects and believes "we do in some ways have to build our way out of problems," as he recently said while speaking at Google.

In contrast, Greuel has a history of blocking development projects that she thought may harm lower income members of her community, as evidenced by her decision to block the building of a Home Depot in Sunland-Tujunga that her community opposed. 

Their records suggest that Garcetti is more focused on trying to showcase how great Los Angeles can be while Gruel is more wary of protecting the needs of lower income residents from more moneyed interests. However, this difference may be more of a reflection in the difference between their voting districts, rather than a reflection of personal difference. 

These and the other minimally discernable differences boil down to a difference in governing style. Gruel is running on a platform of “trust” while Garcetti markets himself as a beacon of “independence.” 

But shouldn’t our mayor offer us both? Isn’t Los Angeles incredible enough to demand a spectacular mayor, not just a decent one?

Although neither candidate dazzles me now, I have faith that whomever wins tomorrow’s election will rise to the occasion and know when to obey past promises and when circumstances demand a change. But like the majority of Los Angeles, I am still not sure who that should be. 


Follow more of Neon Tommy's  2013 Mayoral Election Coverage

Reach News Editor Sara Newman here.



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