It took a long and expensive campaign, one of the toughest the city has seen, but at its end Eric Garcetti emerged victorious as the first Jewish mayor of Los Angeles. With that, LA joined the two other largest cities in the nation, New York and Chicago, which also have Jewish mayors at their helms.
Garcetti, 42, took over the reins of the city on July 1 and has since immersed himself in a grueling effort to win over local unions and to cut city expenses. He came to City Hall holding a strong record on environmental issues and stern support for progressive causes, both domestically and internationally.
A fourth generation Angeleno, Garcetti was a household name even before entering the mayoral race. This was in part because of his service as City Council president, and in part thanks to his father, former LA county district attorney Gil Garcetti, who oversaw the 1995 prosecution of O.J. Simpson.
Styling himself “the kosher burrito,” Garcetti’s roots fit well with LA’s diverse makeup. On his mother’s side he is a descendant of Russian Jews, who established a successful clothing brand, while his father’s side of the family is Mexican of Italian descent. Garcetti, fluent in Spanish, views himself as being part of both the city’s Latino and Jewish communities and belongs to a post-denominational synagogue.
Growing up, he recalled in an interview, mixing Jewish and Latino culture came naturally, as he’d spend the weekends eating traditional Mexican soup at his grandmother’s house before having bagels with his Jewish cousins.