I have a piece on Council President Eric Garcetti in the March issue of Los Angeles, out but not online. It talks about his rising national profile—from involvement in the Howard Dean campaign, Renaissance Weekend visits, trip to Canada with Salma Hayek and Jake Gyllenhaal and his new prominence on the council—and explores Garcetti's career ambitions. The role of his partner, Amy Elaine Wakeland, is touched on as well as Garcetti's recent, under-reported decision to become an officer in the Naval Reserve. At age 35, it is his first military service—which would raise questions even if he didn't represent the most liberal district in the city.
People around him think he aspires to national office, which gives an intriguing spin to his decision to quietly join the navy reserve last September. He signed up for an intelligence unit in which his good friend, affordable-housing advocate Sean Burton, serves. (Both men also sit on the board of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a group of young progressives.) Ensign Garcetti's obligation includes basic officer training in Pensacola, Florida, later this year, plus duty one weekend a month and two weeks each summer. He could be called up to active duty, as happened to several of the unit's officers in January.
"An eight-year commitment when the country is at war is a very serious decision for anyone," Garcetti says, dismissing the suggestion that his newfound calling is politically motivated. He believes in mandatory national service of some kind, he says, although not necessarily in the armed forces. Garcetti says he gained respect for "the application of military science to nonviolent means" when he helped organize the underground democratic resistance in Burma. He also bills being in the navy as an experience that will fill out his knowledge of his country: "The military is one of the few places where all of America comes together."