The reason that the office of city controller is viewed as a fiscal watchdog and audit factory is due largely to Laura Chick. Before she turned the suite on the third floor of City Hall East into a power center, controllers mostly signed checks and laid low. So it's political news that she is endorsing Ron Galperin — and not Dennis Zine, who succeeded her as the city council member from the West Valley's 3rd district.
"Too often Los Angeles' leaders have relied on poll-tested, sound-bite solutions rather than rolling up their sleeves and making the tough decisions to implement long-term solutions to improve the city's operations," Chick said in a statement. "Ron Galperin has the courage, energy and drive to take the City Controller's Office to that next level." Chick had previously endorsed the current controller, Wendy Greuel, for mayor and Mike Feuer for city attorney.
Zine's surrogates are making hay of the fact that Chick settled in the Bay Area after her stint ended as state inspector general. But who cares where she lives. If her watchdog image still has any bite, it's a good plus for Galperin. He also has the endorsement of former controller Rick Tuttle. Of course, some of this is just party politics entering into an officially nonpartisan race. Chick and Tuttle are Democrats, Galperin has the endorsement of the county Democratic Party, and Zine was a Republican before switching to "decline to state."
Chick was controller from 2001 to 2009 and gave the office a new high profile — arguably, Chick's work creating an identity for the role of controller is a big part of the reason that Greuel can use her incumbency as a base to run for mayor. Since leaving office, Chick is consulted about fiscal issues in Los Angeles and has been a critic of the way that City Hall conducts its business.
In the race so far, Zine seems like the candidate to beat as a three-term [fixed: three not two] member of the City Council — Galperin or a third rival, Cary Brazeman, would have to be happy getting into a two-month runoff campaign with Zine. In new campaign contribution reports, through Jan. 19, Zine has reported raising about $731,000, Galperin about $312,000 (with more than $100,000 in personal funds) and Brazeman $187,000 (with $75,000 from himself.)