Capitol Alert

Nowhere to run? No problem. Bill would create powerful new job in California

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, City Council President Herb Wesson, center, and Councilman Curren Price Jr., right, speak outside City Hall in 2015.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, City Council President Herb Wesson, center, and Councilman Curren Price Jr., right, speak outside City Hall in 2015. Associated Press file

Los Angeles has a problem, and it’s one the Democratic Party nationally could only dream of.

There are too many current and aspiring elected officials and too few offices for them to seek. The dilemma is not just in L.A. California is so blue that the statewide route is clogged with ambitious politicians.

Late Thursday came potentially upbeat news for some on the state’s deep bench: Legislation that would create one of the most powerful elected positions in California – county executive of Los Angeles.

Think of the potential candidates from the county of 10 million residents for a post that would become effective in 2020. There’s Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

That’s just a few of those currently in office, or not running for something else at the moment. If Treasurer John Chiang or former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa falls short in next year’s governor’s race, they could take a shot at county executive, becoming a sort of supermayor in L.A. County.

There are other contenders to consider, from Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson to state Sen. Bob Hertzberg to Rep. Judy Chu. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer would be in the mix, as would Rep. Karen Bass, along with a number of of her other colleagues from Congress.

The county executive would be allowed to serve two six-year terms, and their salary would be pegged to that of the presiding Superior Court judge, which stands at nearly $200,000.

The Senate constitutional amendment, if approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, would appear on the June 2018 statewide ballot.

The legislation, which is being carried by Sen. Tony Mendoza, also would expand the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from five members to seven, using 2020 census data. Those elections would take place in 2022, and board members would remain at three terms of four years each.

Mendoza said the bill would create more accountability and transparency. “California, and especially Southern California, has changed so dramatically that we must change how a Board of Supervisors is structured for large, urban counties,” he said.

This isn’t the first attempt to expand the board. Previous efforts to grow the board to nine members faltered, in part over concerns about cost.

Supporters of SCA 12 stress that the measure is written to distribute the budget of the five supervisorial offices across all seven. Meantime, funding for the county executive’s office couldn’t be more than what the county pays for its current, appointed chief executive office.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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