🗳️ June 2022 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (II): City and County

Here in California (and in Los Angeles in particular), we have an election coming up. For months, one of the wealthiest candidates has been blanketing the airwaves, together with ads from the Native-American Casino Lobby, fighting against a ballot initiative that isn’t even on this ballot. Now that both the sample ballots and the real ballots* have been mailed, the political advertising has increased by an order of magnitude. That’s where I come in. Every election, I do a detailed ballot analysis of my sample ballot. This is where I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.
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* California gives all registered voters the option to vote by mail and to vote early.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks (note: links may not be available until all segments are posted):

  1. National Offices** (including US Congress)
  2. Local Offices*** (excluding US Congress and State Assembly)
  3. Judicial Offices
  4. California Statewide Offices*** (including State Assembly)
  5. Summary

** Bucking the convention of my sample ballot, however, I’m including our Congressional Representative in this section.
*** Bucking the convention of my sample ballot, I’m including state legislative officers with the Statewide officers. In my case, that is my Assemblycritter, as we have no State Senator running for office this election.

This part covers the Local Offices (excluding US Congress and State Assembly)

  • City of Los Angeles: Mayor ❦ City Attorney ❦ Controller ❦ Measure BB
  • County of Los Angeles: Supervisor 3rd District ❦ Sheriff ❦ Assessor

🗳️

City of Los Angeles

Mayor

A few years ago, LA City elections were moved from odd years to the same year as state elections to improve turnout. We’ll see. There is a large slate of candidates for Mayor, with one extremely well funded. But is Caruso another Richard RIordan or a Donald Trump. Then there are loads of candidates who have actually held elective office before and would be assets for the city. Let’s dig in…

◯ Alex Gruenenfelder Smith

Smith is a youngun, barely out of college. He hasn’t held elective office before, but has been active on neighborhood councils and such. He has done a lot with progressive politics. He’s published policies in three areas: homelessness, transit, and police. He has some interesting ideas. For example, opening the approximately 2200 city-owned vacant lots to unhoused people for camping and parking. He also wants to implement a vacancy tax on rental properties, investment properties, and third houses to (a) bring tax revenue for homelessness efforts and to encourage owners to rent out their properties. A similar system would be added for hotels with too many vacant rooms. He would also buy old residences, abandoned malls and shopping centers, and hotels in order to convert them into high-quality, low-cost residences.  He also wants to reallocate just some of the $1.7 billion dollars currently spent on the LAPD yearly, and use it for social workers, mental healthcare, and other social services.  He also wants a broad investment in public transit. He has a bunch of little individual endorsements.

I think his youth is his problem. First, he hasn’t fully thought out all the issues the city has to deal with. Second, he doesn’t understand the limitations on the LA Mayor — if he wants these initiatives, he would be much more effective on the city council. Lastly, for the issues he has thought out, I’m not sure he has the buy-in to do them.

◯ Rick J. Caruso

Rick Caruso is an interesting fellow. An extremely wealthy developer, he is the man behind some of the best known shopping destinations: the Grove in the Fairfax Area; the Americana at Brand in Glendale, and the Villiage in the Pacific Palisades. All homogenized upscale developments for a particular clientele. He’s also a big time landlord. But he’s running for mayor, because (he says) he wants to give back to the city. This echoes a past mayor, Rick RIordan, who also was wealthy and owned restaurants such as the Original Pantry. Riordan was non-partisan, but would Caruso be? Does anyone even know his politics? Many are weary of wealthy developers buying their way into politics (cough, Trump), and Caruso — who has been already advertising for four months — is clearly trying to buy his way in. His button issues are homeless camps, corruption, and public safety.

The homelessness issue is telling. On his issues page, he says “demand assistance in getting people off the streets and into housing and addiction treatment centers today.” This indicates an attitude that addiction and mental health issues are the reasons behind the homeless crisis (as opposed to being perhaps a side effect of being homeless).  He wants to declare states of emergency, conduct audits of HH funds. He also states “we MUST look at locations outside our city, such as unincorporated LA County and other locations with lower land costs and population density.” This shows misunderstanding of the problem: it does no good to house people where there are no jobs for them to escape from homelessness. There are similar notions and problems in his policing policy: increase funding, more mental health.

But it is in his anticorruption policy that I think his real agenda becomes clear: “Draft legislation to remove the City Council from ALL land use decisions. Developers and their representatives bribe councilmembers because they need their support to get large out of character developments approved. None of these council members are experts in land use, planning, or environmental issues yet they wield enormous power in projects that are extremely technical and impactful. We don’t need them involved. We need technical professionals reviewing these applications and we need revamped zoning laws that make it clear what can and can’t be built, with no exceptions.” But you know who else influences council members? The constituents in their district. They can indicate if a project technically meets zoning but would be bad for their district. They know the historic aspects of the district. They know what’s right. Removing the council from those decisions will remove the avenue of protest from the people. That’s what he wants.

Next, looking at the endorsements. He’s gotten the endorsement of the LANG (i.e., the Daily News). This publication tends to endorse Republican leaning candidates.  That’s the only endorsement I could find on his site.

I just don’t trust his motives. Call it Trump-fatigue, but I don’t trust wealthy white developers the way I did back in the 1990s.

🔘 Mike Feuer

Feuer is the current City Attorney, and normally this would be a strong plus for his campaign.  Other than a website that is a pain to navigate (hint: you must use the hamburger menu), he has a really good background story. You get the sense that this is someone dedicated to public service. He has some good ideas on homelessness. I can’t summarize all of his issue statements here, but reading through them, I like what I see. His endorsements are mostly individual. I think he would do a good job, but will he excite people. That’s unclear.

Update 220517: Feuer has dropped out and endorsed Karen Bass.

◯ Craig E. Greiwe

I’m not sure what to make of Greiwe. I’ve read through his detailed plans, and they sound a lot like everyone else. I guess there are only so many ways to tackle problems.  But he, like Caruso, comes from a business background (Chief Strategy Officer of R&C PMK, a creative marketing company). He hasn’t been active in city government (Caruso has done more in that area than Greiwe). He just doesn’t have the experience.  He also makes the interesting claim: “he would be the first openly gay Mayor in LA history and the only outsider to hold the office in more than 80 years.” He’s certainly not the first outsider (cough, Riordan). As for being gay, I’m not sure that’s the factor that would give him the edge over his competition.

◯ Andrew Kim

Kim is a lawyer who seems to have similar plans to the others. There’s this interesting bit from his website: “While Working As A Lawyer, Andrew, As A Born Again Christian, Enrolled In Talbot Theological Seminary In The City Of La Mirada, California And Obtained The Master’s Degree With Honor In Theology In 2018. Andrew Is Presently On Leave While Pursuing The Ph.D. Degree In Religion At Claremont Graduate School.” Reading through his positions on the issues, he doesn’t strike me as all that different from the others. I am, however, nervous about his born again nature. I’ve never had good experiences with those folk in public office.

◯ Joe Buscaino

Buscaino is an LA city councilman. He dropped out of Mayor’s race on 5/12 and endorsed Caruso. I don’t think I need to do a deep dive on him.

Karen Ruth Bass

Karen Bass is a current congresswoman, and was on the short list of VP candidates for Biden. Although she has been doing significantly less advertising, she is the front runner and is being attacked by Caruso, resulting in a cease and desist letter for misleading advertising. She has lots of good policies (for example, on the homelessness), but there’s something unspoken that I noticed in her homeless policy: “And as Speaker of the Assembly during the Great Recession”…  She’s also Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She has connections at both the state and the Federal level. This is something that Feuer or Caruso lack. Given that the Mayor may set broad policy but it is the city council that implements it, it is these connections that will open the doors that will make things possible. That’s a really strong asset. Additionally, I think that unlike the other potential leaders, she’ll make a statement about LA and its leadership simply by who she is. She’s also one of the few candidates whose position statements go beyond the usual trifecta (unhoused, safety, corruption). Her environmental statement has a big section on the water issues; I’ve been looking for a candidate that considers the ancillary issues of providing more housing — it uses more water. There’s a balance there, and she’s the only candidate talking about a sustainable water future.

She also has a load of endorsements. In addition to the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times, almost all Democratic organizations are for her, as well as unions and major political leaders. That also means she’s got the connections to do things.

Right now, she’s my favorite, but I seem to have this thing for smart, liberal women named Karen.

◯ Kevin De León

De Leon is another city councilcritter running for mayor. His homelessness plan is similar to others. His climate change plan talks about electricity, the grid, shade, and protection from the heat, but fails to address the issue of water. He has an interesting transportation plan, focusing on public transportation and the Sepulveda Transportation Corridor. He says nothing about how to deal with highway capacity issues and equity issues from highways. His plan also has something odd: “Adding stations to the Ventura and Antelope Valley lines to increase access within the San Fernando Valley including adding a Pacoima station on the Antelope Valley line, a North Hollywood station, and a North Hills Station on the Ventura Line to create more accessibility to communities of color.” The problem is that the Ventura line goes nowhere near the heart of North Hills. If I recall correctly, the Metrolink line uses the rail line that goes through the brewery, which means it is at the southern end of North Hills near Raymer (near where Western Bagel and Fedco (oops, Target) are). There’s no where there for a rail line stop and parking. So his plans aren’t well thought out. He has a bunch of endorsements: mostly individuals, with a few groups.

He just doesn’t turn me on as a strong mayor. I see him more at the level of Garcetti or the forgettable fellow before him (oh, right, Villaraigosa). We need another Tom Bradley to make the city great again.

◯ Ramit Varma

Varma is running as an independent. It says so on his website. His issues are the same as most: Homelessness, Affordability, and Public Safety. However, he doesn’t have an issues page, nor does he have any endorsements. Next…

◯ Gina Viola

Viola is a grassroots candidate, going for the homemade level. She’s looking for a radical transformation, and appears to be in the Bernie mold. She looks to be a mom and community activist without a lot of experience. I think there are stronger candidates.

◯ Mel Wilson

Wilson has a similar litany of issues to the others. He has a little bit about water on his climate change page, but I don’t think it is fully thought out.  He’s been on a few commissions, and seems to be very interested in getting affordable housing. I’m not sure he has a chance.

◯ John “Jsamuel” Jackson

This fellow doesn’t appear to have a website. His campaign name appears to be playing on the name of the actor: jSamuel Jackson for MAYOR 2022

📋 Conclusion

This is one of the other big races on the ballot (together with Senate and Governor). The 800-lb gorilla, in terms of advertising and money, is Rick J. Caruso. But I just don’t trust him; he’s spending all this money to get something. I think it is to get rid of the council’s power over development. That’s a win for him in the long term. I don’t think he has the connections to really help Los Angeles, nor do I believe he’s there for the disadvantaged.

My favorite is Karen Ruth Bass. She has the skills for the job, she has the right ideas, and she has the political connections to bring good things to Los Angeles. There are others who could be equally strong in terms of ideas: I personally like Mike Feuer but Kevin De León has strengths as well. But neither have the connections that Bass has. I think she could be another Tom Bradley.

My choice? Karen Ruth Bass

City Attorney

According to the city, as the City’s general counsel, the City Attorney provides advice and opinions on matters of municipal concern, examines contracts and ordinances as to form and legality, and is frequently called upon to interpret the City Charter, federal and state statutes, and other laws that govern Los Angeles. As the City’s chief prosecutor, the City Attorney prosecutes all misdemeanor criminal offenses and infractions occurring in the City of Los Angeles. The City Attorney works closely with local law enforcement agencies to prosecute crimes through the Criminal Branches of the City Attorney’s Office located throughout Los Angeles. The City Attorney’s Office is also a resource for victims and witnesses of crimes, and provides a network of referral services as well as crisis intervention and support. Additionally, the City Attorney administers a number of citywide crime prevention initiatives focused on preserving the quality of life throughout Los Angeles’ neighborhoods. The City Attorney litigates all civil actions on behalf of the City and represents the City, its boards and officers in all civil trials and legal proceedings, in both state and federal court. The City Attorney advocates for the benefit of the City before the United States Congress and the State Legislature and represents the City in proceedings before the State Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Maritime Board, and other federal and state administrative bodies and committees when the City is an interested party.

◯ Sherri Onica Valle Cole

Cole has an interesting resume. BA in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry before going into the law (reminds me of my friend, Beth), with a law degree from Loyola Law School. 15+ years as a Deputy City Attorney, experience as a White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney, and worked as a Criminal Prosecutor with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, specializing in Consumer Fraud and Workplace Protection. But what I don’t see is being a resource for the victims, or experience in the non-criminal aspects of the position.  Her page talks about prioritizing “issues surrounding homelessness, violent crime, community safety and restore public trust and assurance in the office.” I don’t think there’s been a lack of trust in the City Attorney’s office. The problem is the District Attorney at the County level.  Her key priorities are (1) Mental Health; (2) Transform Law Enforcement; (3) Empower Small Businesses; and (4) Prosecute Consumer and Environmental Crimes. But I think that misses a lot of the duties of the job. Her endorsements page isn’t working, and the Times provided no rationale on weaknesses.

◯ Hydee Feldstein Soto

She did her undergrad at Swarthmore College and then went to Columbia University School of Law. She hasn’t worked in government, but has managed corporate lawyers. The Times described this as “Retired for the last decade, Feldstein Soto was a longtime partner in corporate law firms with specialties in bankruptcy and acquisitions, and she managed teams of lawyers with different disciplines. It was complex work that required collaboration and problem-solving to finalize deals that worked for clients. It was good training for managing the 500-plus lawyers in the city attorney’s office and navigating City Hall, which is full of difficult challenges and competing priorities.” For managing lawyers yes, but it doesn’t bring the criminal experience that is part of the job. It also doesn’t bring the litigation experience.  She has some strong policy statements,  but I’m not sure that her background is the right mix for the position, even given the Times endorsement.

Faisal M. Gill

Gill now markets himself as a progressive Democrat, but worked in the Bush administration. The Times noted “Civil rights lawyer Faisal Gill has focused on holding the Los Angeles Police Department accountable for officer misconduct and has said he would not enforce the city’s ban on homeless encampments.” and the Gill once advocated against gay marriage. People do change, but this does serve to increase the sensitivity when reading his site. From the get-go, his page reads more like a mayoral candidate, talking about homelessness, policing issues, and corruption. One interesting paragraph from his bio: “Shortly after 9/11, Faisal started his service in the Federal Government as a legal counsel for the Office of Personnel Management. Soon afterwards, Faisal learned he was the target of extreme government overreach. Through the work of Edward Snowden, Faisal discovered that he was being spied on by the National Security Agency (NSA), simply for being a prominent and politically active American Muslim.” Another quote I like from his priorities page: “The City Attorney is not elected to defend the police; they are elected to defend the city of Los Angeles and the people that make up that city.” One gets the sense that he would work for the victims. I see no evidence of prior conservative attitudes on his page.  He has some impressive endorsements, including Karen Bass.

◯ Teddy Kapur

Kapur has an interesting background, with loads of public service. He does seem to be more of a corporate lawyer than a litigator.  He doesn’t have a lot of specific issue statements or plans. He has a bunch of individual endorsements; nothing that sways me over.

◯ Richard Kim

Kim is a deputy city attorney looking to move up. He’s explicitly calling for the recall of Gascon.  He makes a strong argument on his site about not electing former corporate lawyers. I tend to agree with that argument, which is why I don’t agree with the Times endorsement.  But there are also things on his site that raise red flags, such as the singular focus on Gascon, and lines like “to the reckless agenda of the defunding-the-police movement”. That shows a misunderstanding of what was done, and leads me to believe he has swallowed Republican rhetoric that read “defund” literally.  He lists no endorsements.

◯ Kevin James

No, this isn’t the actor; it is the former conservative talk show host turned progressive. The new progressive commitment seems real, as evidence by the information on the front page of his website.  His site notes that he has “more than 20 years of legal experience as an Assistant US Attorney and litigator at some of California’s most prestigious law firms. He will also draw on his seven-year tenure as President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works”. Two things worry me here. First, he was a corporate litigator. Second, he’s run for mayor, so he might have higher political ambition and be using the position as a stepping stone. He seems to have an extensive knowledge of the city in his policy priorities. He has a long list of endorsements, including the police protective league. That strikes me as a problem, indicating he might be too close to the police unions.

◯ Marina Torres

Torres is a formal Federal prosecutor and has an interesting history. She has a lot of interesting endorsements.  However, she fails to give a lot of position statements on her website.

📋 Conclusion

This was a really hard one. There are lots of good candidates, with lots of experience. The Times likes Soto, but her lack of experience in government troubles me. James was a possibility but the Police Protective League endorsement killed it for me. Kim and Cole are both in the City Attorney’s office, but Cole didn’t show the range, and Kim had some disturbing rhetoric. Torres just didn’t say enough to demonstrate she understood the city well enough. That leaves Faisal M. Gill, who I believe would work for the victims, as well as bringing some important diversity to city leadership.

Controller

The LA City Controller is the chief accounting officer, auditor and paymaster for the City of Los Angeles. One of the Controller’s main functions is to analyze the effectiveness of different city departments. The Controller oversees 3 divisions: Audit Services, Accounting Operations, and Financial Reporting along with 160 employees who conduct independent audits. These auditors are in charge of managing city payroll and spending, report on city finance, and provide City metrics and data.

◯ Stephanie Clements

Clements has a very interesting resume and a long history of public service. She has  a bachelor’s degree in business-economics and political science from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in public administration from USC.  That bothers me a bit: I’d like to see more of a CPA degree with auditing experience.  What bothers me more is her issues statement “Stephanie will work hard to focus on the following long-term initiatives facing the city of Los Angeles: homelessness, technology investments, job creation, city infrastructure, maintenance, and beautification.” Long-term initiatives are not the job of the Controller’s office. The focus should be financial and data, and I don’t see that. So despite the fact she’s a University Synagogue person, I’m not sure she’s right for this job.

◯ Reid Lidow

Lidow seems like a good guy, but reading through his background I’m asking myself: Where’s the financial experience? For example, “I went on to work for the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, in his role as United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education.” Excuse me, but where is the accounting in that?  Here’s another: “Rising through the ranks at City Hall, first as a communications staffer and then as a speechwriter and deputy press secretary, I was selected to serve as Mayor Garcetti’s Executive Officer.” Fine, but where is the accounting. In short, even before I get to the fact his positions have nothing to do with the controller’s duties, I don’t think he has the right background.

◯ Paul Koretz

Koretz is a current city councilman running for controller. On the council, he “served on the Budget & Finance Committee for over ten years, chaired the Audits and Government Efficiency Committee, and currently chairs the Personnel, Audits, and Animal Welfare Committee.” Good, but what is his background? Answer: “and UCLA, where he earned a BA in History”. History majors aren’t the greatest with numbers. He doesn’t have the right background for Controller.

🔘 David T. Vahedi

His page starts out right: quoting the role of the Controller and noting “I would be the first Controller to have a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. I would be the first Controller that has conducted over 350 audits, both civil and criminal for various governmental agencies. And I would be the first Controller that has extensive experience as a Chief Financial Officer.” That’s a good start.  He has some interesting endorsements. The Times, however, said nothing about him.

◯ J. Carolan O’Gabhann

This guy is a teacher, not an accountant. He writes “I am running for City Controller even though it is essentially a political placeholder position with little authority and beholden to the City Council and their Budget Committee. There is such little authority that I may be the first political candidate to under promise and over perform.” I’m sorry, but if you don’t believe in the position and its role, you shouldn’t be running the office.

◯ Rob Wilcox

His background is interesting for saying a lot and nothing at the same time. He writes “Rob is no stranger to the transformative ability of the Controller’s office. He served as Deputy Controller for Laura Chick. He was pivotal in providing transparency and accountability by engaging both the press and the public in demanding action from the City for the audits Controller Chick released. Laura and Rob released reports on contracting practices at the LADWP, Airport and Port, leading to federal investigations; a culture of harassment and discrimination at LAFD; the massive rape kit test backlog at the LAPD; the cost and abuse of City employee take-home vehicles; and a comprehensive strategy on gang and youth development programs. Rob knows how to maximize the Controller’s ability to effect change. When the Governor appointed Laura in 2009 to serve as Inspector General for the Obama-era Recovery Act spending, she brought Rob with her to serve as Chief Deputy Inspector General.”. However, he never indicates his background. Does he have an accounting background or a legal background? He never says. His platform reads more like a political position, not a financial one. I don’t think he’s right for the job.

Kenneth Mejia

Mejia is the LA Times pick. He has the right background: “I graduated from Woodbury University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting, and soon after, I received my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license in the state of California working as an auditor for one of the big 4 accounting firms. I worked 60 hours a week auditing multi-million and billion-dollar private and public companies to ensure that their financial statements were in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). ”  He also has a great statement of what he wants to do: “I want to use my expertise as an Auditor and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to audit the city’s finances to determine departmental effectiveness identify wasteful spending that should be reallocated to other critical parts for the city. I want to provide financial data to the public in a way that is accessible; all too often, financial data can be confusing  and overwhelming. I want the people of L.A. to know what the city is spending its money on so they can reach out to their City Council members and fight for the needs of their community. I also want to educate the public on basic accounting and reading financial data so that they are armed with the knowledge they need not only to fight for a better city, but to make more informed financial decisions in their personal lives as well. The more transparent and accessible the City’s finances are, the easier it is to determine where our city’s priorities lie and where they should.” That’s the job of a controller, folks.

📋 Conclusion

Reading through these pages, my favorites are Kenneth Mejia and David T. Vahedi. Both have the necessary accounting background, and neither seems to be treating the position as more than it is. The deciding point for me on this race is the statement of what they want to do: Kenneth Mejia is much more focused on the functions of the controller’s office. So I’m going with Kenneth Mejia.

Measure BB

Charter Amendment BB would amend the City Charter by adding “City of Los Angeles” to the definition of “local.” Therefore, the City would then be permitted to provide an additional bid preference for businesses which are located within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles. The argument in favor is that it encourages city businesses. The argument against is that it lacks specific definitions for what constitutes such a business. There appears to be no organized support for or against.  My gut tells me this this would be a good thing.

📋 Conclusion

⚫ Yes on BB

County of Los Angeles

Supervisor, 3rd District

🔘 The County Supervisors are the folks that govern the county — and exert a lot of power. LA is unique — we’ve had an all woman board of supervisors for a while now. Sheila Kuehl, our current supervisor, is termed out.

🔘 Henry Stern

Henry Stern is my current state senator, and this move explains why we’ve got all newbies running for this Senate district (plus I think he termed out). He’s now running to represent the district at the county level. On the one hand, that’s a good thing: we know him, and we know he knows the district. On the other hand, the best thing I can say about him as a state senator was that he was … inoffensive. I look at what the state senate does, and I don’t recall seeing his name on a lot of things that interested me.  Reading through his positions, he seems to be doing the right things. He’s got a bunch of endorsements, including some unions, Democratic clubs, and valley leaders. Stern has never served at the local level; in fact, he’s only served in the State Senate, and was an environmental lawyer before that. The TImes didn’t endorse Stern, however, writing “Stern is known for his environmental legislation, which is important for the region and a good fit for the portions of the district made up of beaches and the Santa Monica Mountains. But neither Hertzberg nor Stern, despite their legislative achievements, match Horvath in either direct service to a constituency or advocacy for the marginalized.”  Lastly, if Stern wins, as there is no State Senate election this year, it will necessitate a special election (and we don’t need to waste the money). Stern is in the “Maybe” category.

◯ Bob Hertzberg

Hertzberg is the state senator from the neighboring district, over in Van Nuys. He’s had a much bigger profile in the State Senate than Stern, working his way up to Senate Majority Leader. He was also active in the State Assembly, working his way up to Speaker. However, he has never served at the local level. The closest he came was serving as chair of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. So he has more experience … but a weaker vision. His “Why I’m Running” is a single page, and doesn’t provide specifics on any single issues. This gives the impression that the reason he is running is to remain in public office — and that’s not a good reason for me to vote for him.

◯ Roxanne Beckford Hoge

When I went to look up Hoge, one of the top search results that came up was a page on her from Prager U. Dennis Prager’s brand of Conservatism is a big 🚩 red flag for me. She has videos up there titled “Roxanne Beckford Hoge: I Was a Hollywood Liberal and Now I Fight for Truth”. Warning. Danger Will Robinson! Her experience for the job? Being an actress and running a maternity clothing line. She also doesn’t have detailed position statements, nor any endorsements.

Lindsey Horvath

Horvath is a councilwoman in the City of West Hollywood, and has the LA Times endorsement. Out of all the other candidates, she’s the only one with local public service experience. That’s a plus. She’s been a Transportation Commissioner in West Hollywood, and has done a bunch of advocacy work. Her campaign page talks about improving transportation infrastructure (a big deal in this district), as well as lots of work to address homelessness. She has done work to initiate homeless solutions; her bio notes that she “initiated the city’s Aging in Place strategy, and she used community-based, culturally-appropriate, and locally-trusted solutions to address the homelessness crisis by connecting unhoused people with permanent housing and supportive services.” She has a strong priorities page, which says a lot about transportation. She has a lot of significant endorsements. My favorite so far.

◯ Jeffi Girgenti

Girgenti is a small business owner and former police officer in San Fernando. But one of her platforms eliminates her for me: “End all Vaccine and Mask Mandates”. Nope. Not electing stupid. She is endorsed by Republican clubs.

◯ Craig A. Brill

Brill has worked in women’s fashion all his life, and has no public service experience. His main points appear to be public safety. But I don’t think there is enough experience there.

📋 Conclusion

The decision here comes down to two people: my current state senator, Henry Stern, or West Hollywood City Councilcritter Lindsey HorvathOf the two, Horvath is stronger. She has accomplished more on local issues, and has worked in local government and (as demonstrated by her endorsements) has stronger relationships with the other Supervisors. So this office I recommend Lindsey Horvath.

Sheriff

The LA County Sheriff is the top law enforcement officer in the County. After years and years of having the same sheriff (Peter Pitchess, who served from 1958 to 1981), the County has had a series of poor Sheriffs. The current guy (who I voted for) has proved to be equally corrupt, and to allow a lot of bad actors to remain in office. He needs to go, and we need someone who can really clean up the swamp.

◯ Britta S. Steinbrenner

Steinbrenner is a 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, retiring in March 2022 as Captain of the County Services Bureau (CSB). That’s good and bad. We don’t know what connection she has to the problem elements, or how well she will clean them out. She says she wants to “reform and modernize the Department and bring a high standard of policing to the people of Los Angeles County”. In general, she talks a good game. Her letter to the deputies is interesting. The real question is: As someone who has been inside the system for so long, was she part of the problem or did she turn an eye away from it? If she wanted a better department, why wait until now? I think I’m going to have trouble supporting insiders to fix things.

◯ Karla Yesenia Carranza

Carranza, another veteran of the Sheriff’s department, filed at the deadline and hasn’t yet set up a website. Given the large number of candidates, this knocks her out.

◯ Cecil Rhambo

Rhambo (what a name!) is currently chief of the LA Airport Police Department. This may make you believe he is an outsider, but his bio notes “Cecil joined the LA County Sheriff’s Department and began a 33-year career in law enforcement. Cecil worked all over LA County in patrol and other assignments, including Narcotics in an undercover capacity for both the County and as a deputized Federal Agent.” So this is yet another insider working to reform the department. He has some good position statements. He has a large list of endorsements. The problem here is the same as with Steinbrenner: He was part of Baca’s leadership team, and Baca was a problem Sheriff. Why didn’t he start reforming things then?

◯ Matt Rodriguez

Rodriquez’s bio notes that he is a 32-year law enforcement veteran who has served in various capacities throughout Los Angeles County, including 25 years of service with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department where he retired at the rank of Captain. Again: Someone who served inside the department, and didn’t speak up. There are also statements in his bio that raise red flags to me: “Matt was raised to appreciate the men and women of law enforcement and to defend our Constitutional Rights. A father, son, brother, Matt upholds and respects family values.” This strikes me as coded language, which could continue problems in different ways against different communities.  He also supports concealed carry. I don’t think he’s the guy for me.

Robert Luna

Luna is the Chief of Police for Long Beach, and has the Times endorsement. He has never been part of the LA Sheriff’s department. His bio notes “Robert Luna recently completed his service as Long Beach Chief of Police, capping a 36-year career at the Long Beach Police Department” He has been independent from this mess and can bring an independent eye. There’s one concern. The last election (where I mistakenly went for Villanueva), the “other guy” was the former Chief of Police for Long Beach, who had been elected Sheriff. He couldn’t fix the problems. Can this guy do better? He does have a good list of priorities and a significant list of endorsements. Right now, he’s my leading contender.

◯ Eli Vera

His opening pages notes “As a 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD)” — so yet again, we have someone who was inside the department when all the corruption happened and didn’t speak up.  He does want to clean up the department. He has a small list of endorsements, including the Professional Police Officers. That’s a bit of a concern.

◯ Alex Villanueva Inc

He’s the man everyone is running against. He has sullied the name of the Sheriff’s department. He has some endorsements, but what’s more telling is his statement on the endorsement’s page: “As your elected Sheriff seeking reelection, I have decided that in building our team I do not want the support of the political establishment. Frankly, it comes with too many strings attached. The political elites want me to stop pointing out the government’s failures in dealing with rising crime and out-of-control homelessness. The political elites also don’t want me to remind the public that Los Angeles ranks #2 in the nation in political corruption.” The translation of this is that he blames his inability to control crime and homelessness on the politicians, not the poor work of his department. That’s Trumpian — attempting to deflect the blame. It’s never appropriate in a law enforcement leader.

◯ April Saucedo Hood

Hood, on the other hand, provides precious little background information: “20+ years of law enforcement experience. Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills.” No details on that law enforcement experience. The LA Times explains why: It is as a “state parole agent”. That does not prepare one for running a large Sheriff’s department.  Her priorities also lack specifics.

◯ Eric Strong

Strong’s bio is interesting in its omissions. He states “Eric began his career in public safety in 1993, following in his father’s footsteps as an officer for the Compton Police Department.” It also states “Eric lives in Inglewood with his wife Sidra who also serves in the LA County Sheriff’s Department”. Note the “also”. So what is never said is that he (a) currently works for the Sheriff’s department (he’s even shown in uniform), nor for how long he has been working there. That’s a problem. Again, we have an insider. He has a reasonable priorities statement. He has an interesting list of endorsements. But, again, he is an insider.

📋 Conclusion

This decision boils down to the simple: Do you trust long term Sheriff’s department members to be able to reform the culture of the Sheriff’s department, when they themselves have been part of that culture without speaking up? If the answer is “no” (which I think it is), that leaves you only two choices: April Saucedo Hood and Robert LunaOf those, Hood has no experience running a large department. That leaves only one choice: Robert Luna.

Assessor

The County Assessor is entrusted with locating all taxable property in the County and establishing its value. The Los Angeles County Assessor’s office is the largest in the country with 2.6 million assessments. The primary responsibilities of the County Assessor include locating all taxable property in the County and identifying ownership, establishing a taxable value for all property, completing an assessment roll with the assessed values of all property, and applying all legal exemptions.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the basics. Jeffrey Prang has been doing a good job, and there have been no complaints about him. The online payment system works, although it is a bit clunky. Anyone seeking to replace him needs to start with a justification why it is necessary, and why I should pay for a learning curve and new stationary and paperwork.

◯ Mike Campbell

Campbell is a current deputy assessor who is running “to restore public trust in government, provide accountability, protect taxpayers rights, and have transparency.” The problem is: Those aren’t problems with the assessor’s office.  So why is he running? His issues are generic assessor issues, and he provides no specifics of problems. Next…

◯ Anthony Lopez

His website does not inspire confidence, opening with “A sunset can either end a chapter or end a book.” and “This is a website I’ve decided to construct at the behest of a certain Mr. Long, cảm ơn ngài.” His strategy page is equally wishy-washy. His website doesn’t provide a winning argument for replacing Prang.

◯ Sandy Sun

Sun is a 22 year veteran of the Assessor’s Office, trained in both Real Property and Personal Property Appraisal. She has the experience.  But her fundamental argument as to why Prang should be replaced is “In 172 years we have never had a female Assessor, and we are long overdue.” That’s not a reason for change: change for change sake creates chaos.

Jeffrey Prang Inc

Prang’s page on the assessor site says: “Under the leadership and direction of Assessor Jeff Prang, the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor has continued building the Assessor Modernization Project (AMP), a state-of-the-art property assessment system replacing 40 year old technologies known as legacy systems. After three successful phases, and over 125 million live documents converted digitally, AMP is now the go-to production system for the Office of the Assessor. In February 2021, the Assessor achieved another major milestone moving the system to Oracle Cloud, achieving huge benefits in cost savings, performance, flexibility and resource efficiencies. In a landscape dominated by inefficiencies, AMP stands out as a model for future technological innovations for not only Los Angeles County but other counties and departments as well. AMP solidifies the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor as a leading technology innovator and a leader in constituent services.” He’s got all the endorsements: Times, Daily News, and many more. There have been a few complaints, but none that have held up. I don’t see a reason to replace him.

📋 Conclusion

Stick with what works: Jeffrey Prang

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