Tuesday, March 08, 2005

L.A. has a mayor -- who knew?!

I voted for mayor this morning and turnout appeared to be about as high as a mid week show of "Son of the Mask." I suppose that statement personifies the problem, though, since upper middle class Angelenos like myself are more likely to talk about movie grosses than politics.

I keep reading in the LA Times that this has been a particularly intense mayoral race, with lots of ads, mailings, door knocking, etc. But I seem to have missed all of it. I don't watch ads since I have a TiVo, but I do often watch what the ads are as I fast forward through them and the only ones I saw were a couple for Hahn. Maybe the other guys weren't advetising on the shows I watch.

I was shocked that I didn't get a single phone call or mailing about the mayoral face (although our city council member, who ran unopposed, did send a bunch of mailings). My girlfriend and I are both registered Democrats (all 5 of the leading candidates are Democrats) and I get my share of political junk mail, so it seems really weird that we didn't get hit up at all.

Since I was apparently unimportant to the marketing teams for each campaign, I was left to choose my mayor based on the occassional (but surely not enough) articles I read in the LA Times and brief visits to all their websites. I also paid attention to the Times' endorsement since the editors there are probably close to my demographic (upper middle class, well educated, somewhat pretentious), if a bit older.

It's almost weird to vote based solely on newspaper articles and candidates' information -- kind of like a political scientist's wet dream. Since all the candidates (except maybe Parks) seemed like good guys who would be adequate mayors, I had to dig a bit and try to make an informed decision without the associations you usually have after being inundated with marketing (for better or, most likely, for worse).

I decided to vote for Hertzberg, since he seems intent on focusing L.A.'s biggest problems with bold plans. It may be a difficult task given the lack of civic pride in this city and the weak mayoral powers thanks to the charter, but I think we need a mayor who's willing to think big about how to deal with traffic, pollution, the schools, and city unity. Hahn never seemed to think bigger than adding a few left turn signals per year (which he didn't even do well) and strikes me as somewhat corrupt (even if the charges aren't true, I can't say I'm impressed by somebody who grew up in and has spent his entire adult life in city politics). Villaraigosa was my second choice, but some of his ideas like extending the red line to the ocean are probably a bit too ambitious and I think he's focused a little bit more on passion than actual ideas to change the city. I'd still take that over Hahn -- and will vote for him if it's a Villaraigosa-Hahn runoff -- but Hertzberg strikes me as the right compromise between passion and practical ideas.

Whoever wins, though, I think one of the best ways to measure their success is whether a majority of people in the city know who he is (unless it's for a corruption scandal). And if L.A. could get a mayor with Guiliani-size national stature (but hopefully not his politics), that would be a really welcome change.

No comments: