Would-Be L.A. Mayor Seeks Jewish Votes

In Race With Jews, Wendy Greuel Notes She Married Into Faith

Fine Family: Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel with her husband and young son.
courtesy of wendy greuel
Fine Family: Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel with her husband and young son.

By Rex Weiner

Published January 29, 2012, issue of February 03, 2012.
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Other Democrats vying for City Hall’s top job in this overwhelmingly Democratic town are City Council President Eric Garcetti, Councilwoman Jan Perry and First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner, any of whom would become L.A.’s first Jewish mayor. Perry, who is African American, or Greuel would be the first woman to lead the city.

A recent poll of L.A. voters by an independent political consultant showed Greuel tied for front-runner with Garcetti (who also boasts Latino heritage) and undeclared front-runner County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky close on their heels. Political observers do not take the early poll too seriously, because the primary is not until March 5, 2013. Nevertheless, many view the contest as it stands today as a two-way race between Garcetti and Greuel.

A three-way race with Yaroslavsky, who boasts citywide name recognition and strong support in the Jewish community, which he developed over 30 years spent in public service, could lead to a bruising and an expensive runoff ballot. But Greuel insists she is not intimidated and sources say she has a $1 million war chest for the run.

“When I decided to run,” she said confidently, “I assumed that everyone was in and that I would become mayor.” She is the only office holder among the candidates who is choosing between her current job and a mayoral bid; both Garcetti and Perry are at the end of their term limits, while Greuel, after three stints on the city council, assumed the office of city controller in 2009.

It helps that DreamWorks SKG triumvirate Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen have endorsed her candidacy. Greuel worked for several years at DreamWorks.

Greuel has a knack for using public office to capture the spotlight, though often with unintended consequences. Wags tagged her “Queen of Potholes” for her promise while on the city council to repair every crumbling mile of the deteriorating roadway within her district. As L.A.’s top fiscal cop, she includes an enticing press release with every audit. Greuel’s revelation that a “Gold Card Desk” in a shadowy corner of the Department of Transportation had dismissed hundreds of city parking citations at the behest of city bigwigs made all the evening newscasts. Blowback included innuendo voiced from as high as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office that perhaps a ticket or two may have been fixed by Greuel’s own office during her city council tenure.

In any case, the resulting kerfuffle highlighted the controller’s role of protecting the taxpayer’s pocketbook against City Hall waste and corruption.

“I ruffled a lot of feathers,” she admitted. “That’s my job.”

Contact Rex Weiner at feedback@forward.com


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