Zev Yaroslavsky, the Los Angeles County Supervisor and longtime Southern California political force, has announced he will not enter the 2013 race for mayor of Los Angeles.
The move signals not only an end to Yaroslavsky’s 40 years as the city’s most prominent and popular Jewish politician, but also clears the field for the three declared Democratic candidates currently campaigning for mayor, and any others who might throw their hats in the ring.
Recalling his political debut as a 26 year-old city councilman, Yaroslavsky admitted it was time to move on from elected office.
“I have quite literally come of age in public life at the forefront of Los Angeles’ most critical issues,” he said. “While I have never been a supporter of term limits, I do believe that four decades is long enough for any citizen to hold elective office, especially in an executive capacity.”
This is Yaroslavsky’s third and in effect last demurral from joining a race for L.A.’s top job. The choice first faced him in the 1980s when he would have contested Tom Bradley, the city’s first black mayor.
Yaroslavsky, an L.A. native and son of Russian immigrants, came to prominence during the 1970s when he helped lead L.A.’s Jewish community in the battle to allow Russian Jews to exit the Soviet Union. As a city councilman, Yaroslavsky was instrumental in aiding Russian speakers’ integration into the city’s Jewish community.
The decision leaves three announced Democratic mayoral candidates in the race, including City Council members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, and City Controller Wendy Greuel.
Greuel was the first to step forward with a tribute: “Whether it was protecting our oceans and beaches from offshore drilling, preserving open space, tackling homelessness or expanding and improving our transportation system, Zev has always put policy above politics to deliver results.”
Greuel, with her Jewish husband is a member of Hollywood’s Temple Israel. Both Perry and Garcetti are also Jewish. In heavily Democratic L.A., that likely ensures the election of the city’s first Jewish mayor when voters go to the polls next June.
Rex Weiner is a Brooklyn-born, third-generation journalist who from 1992 to 1997 covered the entertainment industry as a staff reporter for Daily Variety, where his column, Lost and Found, appeared weekly. His articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Observer and LA Weekly, and he contributes regularly to Rolling Stone Italia. His screenwriting credits include “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” (20th Century Fox), and he was one of the first writers of the TV series “Miami Vice.” He is a founding editor of High Times magazine and a co-author of The Woodstock Census (Viking, 1979), one of the key texts analyzing the impact of the ’60s generation on American society. He is currently based in Los Angeles and in the town of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, where his fluent Spanish and capacity for tequila come in handy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.