In about a week, the Los Angeles Mayor’s race will come to an end. Finally.
In the run-up to Election Day voting, there’s been a tremendous amount of political chaff being dropped by all sides. It’s time to cut through the day-to-day noise that’s passing for “political commentary” these days, and recap what we’ve seen for the past four years from our Mayor, and what we can hope to get out of next week’s vote
We have two candidates, who, by their own admission, and the attacks lobbed at them by their opponents, aren’t perfect. Both have qualities that make them at least somewhat qualified for the job, and both have faults, some bigger than others, as well. So how do we look at this race and come to a conclusion?
This election is by necessity a referendum on the tenure of Mayor Jim Hahn. The job of the voters is clear – they need to decide if the work he’s done so far merits him another four years in office, or if someone else needs to be given a chance to do better. Cutting through all the chatter of the PR team, as near as I can tell Incumbent Hahn’s primary focus has been:
1. Raising re-election cash
2. Rewarding donors who gave to him in a close race in 2001
3. (See #1)
4. Rewarding donors who gave to him in a close race in 2005
5. (See #1)
The fact is, we would not have even had a competitive race for Mayor if the myriad of challengers didn’t think that the incumbent hadn’t been doing his job. We’ve read too many stories about people paying for access to the Mayor’s office, problems with “PR” contracts between the City and Fleishman Hillard, and a lot of time and energy spent by the mayor raising money, giving government goodies to his friends, and the like. Any time he’s called on it, he responds with the “best defense is a good offense” rhetoric. Great politics, lousy policy, Jimi.
Now, it might be excusable if a Mayor had a less-than-perfect ethics rating if perhaps he had something to show for his four years in office. But aside from one good hiring decision (Cheif William Bratton), the Mayor has not been a bold leader on any major issues. The “Jimi come lately” to such issues as the County Seal, film production subsidies, and any other “issues” that he’s brought up in the past few weeks
The only time we get to see any big ideas is in the remaining weeks of a runoff campaign, when, in need of something to put on a targeted mail piece, we get some big talk at the end of the race. Perhaps Mayors oughta be limited to 6 months in office so we can get more “big ideas” out of them since they’ll always be in the death throes of a campaign cycle?
There’s no denying that Councilmember Tony Villaraigosa is not a perfect candidate, and has had some missteps of his own. Running for Mayor in the middle of his council term does not help, and he’s had to return some funny money of his own. The difference is that he’s not been afraid to stand up for what he’s done and take responsibility for his actions – and not hide behind PR consultants and taxpayer paid flacks.
More importantly, this is, as I said before, a referendum on The Mayor, first and foremost. And as I said before, it’s time to ask ourselves if we can do better than the guy in the job now. A huge number of people in government & business who have worked with the incumbent have chosen his opponent, flaws and all and the most Hahn’s PR time can do is denigrate these elected officials and trot out the endorsements of crank politicos like Walter “I Dislike Mexicans” Moore.
Which brings me to the thing that has bothered me the most about Jimi Hahn this time around – his campaigns sharp tilt to the right to try and scoop up a few votes and use covert racial appeals to drive up turnout amongst people he perceives Don’t Like Mexicans. It’s cynical, it’s wrong and I’m not the only one to say so.
Garry South, in the LA Daily News takes Mayor Hahn and his crew to task for their newfound interest in Tony Villaraigosa’s skin color, and he’s not too impressed, aiming his comments squarely at Bill Carrick and Kam Kuwata, who are running the Mayor’s race.
To me, it just shows me that should Mayor Hahn get re-elected with such a cynical campaign, he will have a much harder time leading the city than he does now. While now he only has the ethical cloud over his head, in a Second Jimi Administration, he’ll have both ethics and ethnic clouds for the rest of his political life. Certainly not something Daddy Ken would endorse. And certainly no way to run a major city.
So, I have this message for my Republican friends who are looking at their final choices and aren’t happy and offer this advice: I know this election sucks for you. I know you look at these guys and are wondering how to vote when they’re both liberal Democrats who are identical on most issues, and whom you disagree with.
It’s no fun when you’re put in this position because you want to vote your conscience but the ballot doesn’t allow it. So who does a good Republican vote for?
My advice: vote for Antonio Villaraigosa, the liberal Latino in the race. If you really support the Republican party, you’ll vote for Tony, even though this seems strange. Why? Because if you give your support to Tony, and he fails, it clears the way for a (real, intelligent, sane) Republican to run four years from now. If he succeeds and LA is a better place in four years, well then you’ll be livining in a better city. Either way, you win.
A vote for the phony “Republicanism” of Jimi Hahn is a vote for more City Hall corruption, more of your tax dollars spent on government goodies for his donors, and a city that will continue to slide downhill. Just because he’s a white guy in a boring suit does not make him anything close to being a Republican. Don’t be fooled. He will not do anything for you once he gets re-elected, and he will not care. That is, unless you give thousands of dollars for the campaign fund.
So, there you have it. It’s not pretty, but for now it’s what we’ve got. No more caterwauling about how negative the camapign was, no more whining about the guy or gal who didn’t make it. It’s time for us to step up and make a decision about the kind of person we want in the Mayor’s office. Go vote on May 17th, and start holding the winner accountable to their promises on May 18th. Good luck.
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com
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