Wendy Greuel, who as Los Angeles city controller oversees the city’s finances, is the only one of four Democratic candidates in the 2013 race for mayor who isn’t Jewish, a detail that did not prevent Greuel from attending services at no fewer than four synagogues during last year’s High Holy Days.
The synagogue shuttling, as well as Greuel’s penchant for showing up at events like the Jewish Federation’s “Imagining Our Future” seminar in December, might be seen as simply good politics in a city where the 6% of the population that is Jewish delivers an outsized 16% to 18% of the vote.
But Greuel says it’s a genuine passion — and, after all, she married into the faith.
“My mom said I would marry a Jewish man,” the native Angeleno said during an afternoon interview with the Forward at a cafe in Larchmont Village, a midcity neighborhood within sight of the Hollywood sign.
She and Jewish attorney/filmmaker Dean Schramm have an 8-year-old son, Thomas, who is on the verge of entering Hebrew school at Temple Israel of Hollywood. “I just fell in love with the Jewish religion and culture,” said Greuel, who visited Israel in 2008 with a city delegation.
A kinetic 50-year-old with a signature no-fuss blond bob, Greuel was wearing a trim black suit and a mauve blouse covered by a multicolored shawl. She had just come from riding an open-topped Mustang in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade that chilly morning.
Describing herself as “determined and competitive,” Greuel believes that she is the one to lead the city through a historic time.
“Los Angeles is at a crossroads, and I want to give back to a city that has given me so much,” she said. “People want a mayor who is dedicated to improving the lives of its citizens. I believe it’s my time, my vision.”
A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, and daughter of a Christian church founder, Greuel’s political career began in the 1980s, when she was a City Hall intern during Mayor Tom Bradley’s administration, and includes a Washington stint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She has been married for nearly 10 years to Schramm, who is active in the American Jewish Committee.
The couple met just as Greuel was launching her hard-fought 2002 campaign for city council, representing the 2nd District and up against former state assemblyman Tony Cardenas. Dating led to door-to-door canvassing, and ultimately Schramm’s fiancée won by 225 votes.