By Joel Fox.
Isn’t it a problem in a great metropolis like Los Angeles that two of the three charter officers running for election are unopposed and the third—the mayor– has only token opposition?
The situation brings to mind the old question: What if they gave an election and no one came? Unfortunately, close to that result is a prospect for the Los Angeles city election coming Tuesday. I talked to a Los Angeles City insider and a local political reporter this week and both questioned whether turnout for the election would top 10-percent. Four years ago, the election saw a 21-percent turnout but there was a contested mayoral race.
City attorney Mike Feuer and city controller Ron Galperin have no opposition. None. Not even token opposition. Under each office in the ballot the incumbent is the only name listed. Raising this issue is not an indictment of the men who hold these offices. By all accounts, they have done good jobs.
However, in a democracy at election time there should be a test of ideas. There should be discussions of goals and how the city offices operate. When there are no opposition candidates, that full discussion doesn’t take place.
In the high profile office of mayor, incumbent Eric Garcetti has drawn a handful of opponents, some willing to pay the filing fee to gain a place on the ballot but do little else. Of Mayor Garcetti’s ten opponents, only one, Mitchell Schwartz, a former Clinton White House aide, has spent more than four figures on his campaign.
The winners of these uncontested elections will get extended time in office, as well. Los Angeles voters changed the rules so that the mayor and other elected officials would run when federal and state elections are held starting in 2020. The idea is to increase turnout for city elections. So the winners of this year’s vote get 5 ½ years in office. Assuming they remain in the office to which they are elected and don’t seek another office. But that is a story for another time.
Contested elections would result in more debate and discussion of policy and politics. Isn’t that what all those Town Hall protests are about?
Speaking of President Donald Trump, the focus of many Town Hall protests, he has made an appearance in the LA city election. At least the strategy employed in the November election of attempting to defeat a candidate by linking him or her to Trump has reappeared in the LA election.
This time, instead of a candidate linked to Trump, it is opponents of Measure S, the controversial initiative that will put a crimp in Los Angeles development projects that is tied to the president in a mailer.
Opponents have issued a mailer telling voters to “Stand up to Trump’s LA Partners” with pictures of high rise towers topped by the word Trump. These so-called partners might have donated to Trump’s presidential campaign or used some Trump related services.
Whether the attack will work is questionable. A number of California Republicans kept their seats despite efforts to link them to the GOP presidential candidate.