Eric Garcetti will be the next Mayor of Los Angeles. Congratulations to him for running a good, smart campaign. I look forward to him being the Mayor of all of Los Angeles.
Controller Wendy Greuel, the candidate I (and my community) supported ran a commendable campaign. She ran a respectable one in standing up for underserved communities, for working people, in support of police and fire. And she didn’t just say the things you wanted to hear. She said the things you needed to hear…sometimes didn’t want to hear. She stood up for all the right things…that wins most elections. I’m not sure that’s the case with Garcetti, who has a history of telling people what they want to hear—then flip flopping. But we about to see.
Wendy just ran against campaign politic for which she was unacquainted. We witnessed it early on Twitter, on Facebook, on the street “buzz” (across communities). Some of us had seen it before, in 2008 and again 2012—how technology and the pursuit of non-traditional leadership, called “people power,” those really don’t care about the intricacies of politics respond to those most technologically (populist) savvy. We watched it win two national elections. It won three major city mayoral elections in Chicago (with Rahm Emmanuel), in Newark (with Cory Booker), in Atlanta (with Kasim Reed), the California Attorney General Office (Kamala Harris) and other places too numerous to mention. The candidate didn’t beat Wendy Greuel, the campaign (Obama model) did. Now we have to live with that. And we will learn from it.
Hopefully, we won’t get this outcome twisted. Seventy-one percent of the black community voted for Wendy Greuel, because she stood for the things we stood for. Plain and simple. Will the community lose at City Hall? We’ll see. But we do know this, in the last three mayoral elections, the black community picked right (the winner) for all the wrong reasons and got nothing in return from City Hall, outside a few commissionerships. Nothing consequential.
This time, the community picked wrong, for the right reason.
The black community’s busiest business corridor is about to be decimated a mass transit rail system. THAT’S A FACT. One that might not even stop in the busiest, most significant cultural enclave in the community. The last Mayor, that this community picked (picked right, for the wrong reason—because the previous Mayor, that we also picked right for the wrong reason, in deference to his late Daddy’s name and forty year legacy, fired the black police chief—that he never promised to keep), could have changed all that—he had the votes to do it—but he didn’t.
The black community needed a commitment, this time around, that, come hell or high water, their choice for Mayor would fight to the death for this rail line to be taken underground. Only one candidate promised to champion the effort—finding the money for the tunnel—in the same way Villa La Raza championed police growth and mass transit for other parts of the city, finding the money when the question was raised, “Where’s the money gonna come from?”. Same place it came from for police, and will come for fire and EMT response.
That was a no brainer.
The black community’s choice was being asked to turn on working people. Now, who works less in Los Angeles than black people, the community with the highest unemployment? The only reliable long-term employment for black people, in Los Angeles, is municipal (government) employment—which has civil service protection, and organized employment—which has strong unionized advocacy, which insures “protected work.” Those are also the employments with the strongest pension systems—to insure that a life of labor doesn’t end up being a life of poverty in our senior years. At a time when the private sector industries are mis-investing pensions, robbing pensions, disinvesting in pensions, why would we, in our right minds, support a candidate that has said pensions are in play as a cost cutting measure for the city? Who would support anyone that would negotiate away their pension, or seek to union bust?
South Los Angeles simply voted for what was in their best interest in this election. They lost, but they did it right.
The last thing is that black people support people who stand up for them (Latinos too). You can’t let your people talk about my people and not say anything. That Kevin James thing was a gamechanger, for everybody. Don’t think that didn’t resonate throughout the community. Given the election results, we know why Garcetti chose to say nothing—he didn’t want to risk losing the conservative vote. So the dignity of the President and Latinos were subjugated for a block of votes. Got it. Shows where the principals of the “new Mayor” fell on this matter.
The black community fell the other way. You not gonna let people talk about us, and get our vote too. Unless you think we’re stupid. But the other mayors ignored the community’s sensitivities too, so maybe…
These were the issues that made the difference in the candidates. We will see if Eric Garcetti is sincere. SURPRISE US. South Los Angeles needs a Mayor who will keep their word to them, for a change…even if it was a waffling word. We’ll see what real leverage those who sided with him from South Los Angeles have, beyond any personal benefit they may neogotiate.
In the meantime, I believe South Los Angeles ended up picking wrong, but for the right reason. We’d been double-talked for twelve years by Mayors of Los Angeles.
So South Los Angeles made a break for it, and voted their interest—not for fast talk, friendly chat or gracious smiles. You can’t blame em.
Straight talk from a mayoral candidate sounded damn good for a change.
Even if it didn’t win.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist and author of, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21 Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com and on Twitter at @DrAnthonySamad.