*We just had a major election in Los Angeles – a mayoral primary election to be exact.
Mayor is an important position in City government. It’s the top spot in most cities and Los Angeles is no exception. Our mayor has achieved rock star status and the coup de grâce that catapulted his star was when he was chosen as the chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. That was huge.
It’s an important election. You’d think it would be important to Angelenos and who is at the helm of a city like Los Angeles. Los Angeles is no slouch town. It is a major economic force not just in the United States but the world. It has the fifth busiest port in the world and is ranked as the 15th largest economy in the world. Not to mention that it is the entertainment capital of world and has the best weather all around. A lot of dollars flow in and out of this town. Los Angeles politics matter.
But in the minds of Angelenos does it matter? You have to wonder and ask the question. The turnout at last Tuesday’s primary election to elect the next mayor of one of the most high profile cities in the nation was dismal. It was only 16% of the nearly 1,800,000 registered voters in the City. Granted, we had lovely weather on Election Day while so much of the country was shoveling snow. But was it the weather that kept nearly 1,500,000 voters from the polls or was it something else?
It could have been the lack of snap, crackle and pop in the candidates that people have come to expect in elections. We just came off of a rancorous and testy Presidential election season that was full of hell, fury and brimstone. It was consuming, engaging and exhausting.
The field of mayoral candidates on the other hand are fairly moderate in their appeal; three out of the four of them come right out of city government. They aren’t glamorous or grand, yet all are solid in their public service and contributions to the city.
Today modern day politicking is as much about personality as it is about position or policy. When it comes to personality, the mayoral candidates there were no standouts or lighten rods – no one seems to edge out the other in terms of rhetoric or posturing. Their policies weren’t particularly divergent from each other neither were their personalities.
So were Angelenos simply uninterested in the mayoral race because the candidates just weren’t exciting enough or could it be election fatigue and over saturation from the Presidential election or could it be something else?
It has to be something else.
Los Angeles is about 475 square miles of the most economically diverse territory in the state. Its blight and beauty is precariously juxtaposed to its wealth and poverty. The lives of the haves and have not’s intersect at few points. There is distain and distance between the two in this town.
The challenge for city-wide political candidates is to speak with one voice to these two audiences and be the bridge that brings everyone along together. It’s idealism that’s not so idea anymore.
The romanticism of politics and political leaders has lost its luster.
Angelenos were essentially apathetic during the primary. The turnout suggests they lack interest and are not invested in the political machine that runs Los Angeles. By not going to the polls they are basically saying who’s in power doesn’t matter and won’t impact their lives.
Well, it does and it will. Our local executive and legislative process impacts every aspect of our lives from the fees we pay for services to the employment opportunities we garner for our communities. Now that the field has narrowed down to two candidates which are headed for a run off in May, it’s time they are held to talking specifics in terms of how their policies will improve the quality of life in the City. And Angelenos will have to come out their malaise and ferret out the differences between the two and cast their vote in the upcoming general election for the candidate who best represents their needs and concerns.
It’s an exercise that not only Los Angeles residents must do, but residents in all communities across the nation must do. If not the mostly likely winner of this election or any election for that matter will be apathy.
Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. She is the owner of Bromont Avenue Foods. She is the author of “Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning Heart Healthy Recipes.” Visit http://bromontavefoods.com for more information. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].