The lasting impact of Tuesday's vote on the power of labor in LA elections will be debated until the next time that influence is tested at the polls. The few million spent by unions on behalf of Wendy Greuel, led by $1.65 million from the DWP's International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, didn't get her into the mayor's office. The labor-hatched John Choi also lost his bid for City Council — but labor candidates Gil Cedillo and Curren Price did win seats on the council. So the tally sheet is mixed. As of now, though, can anyone claim to be a kingmaker among local Latino politicians? Supervisor Gloria Molina, Councilman Jose Huizar and Valley electeds such as Rep. Tony Cardenas and Sen. Alex Padilla endorsed Wendy Greuel for mayor. They couldn't deliver even the Latino vote: 63 percent of Latino voters cast ballots for Eric Garcetti, according to Fernando Guerra, who oversaw Tuesday's exit poll by Loyola Marymount University.
Oscar Garza, a KPCC editor who was formerly the editor-in-chief of the late Ciudad magazine, writes that Garcetti is a new kind of Latino figure for Los Angeles. Sample from his story for the NPR station's website:
Eight years ago, when I was editor-in-chief of Ciudad Magazine, we heralded the election of Antonio Villaraigosa as L.A.'s first modern-day Mexican-American mayor.
At another junction during the magazine's three-year life, we published a cover story titled: "The New Angelenos Are Half-Latino: How They're Changing the Face of Our Wildly Diverse Metropolis." The story examined how Latinos in L.A. are increasingly the children or partners of people from other ethnicities and races.
And now L.A. has a mayor who fits that bill.
Some Latinos quibble with Eric Garcetti's pedigree. His mother is Jewish, and his Italian surname comes from a European ancestor who emigrated to Mexico. But he is firm about his ethnic bona fides.
“Both of my father’s parents were proudly Mexican-American, both spoke Spanish as their first language," Garcetti told KPCC last year. "My grandfather was born in Mexico, my grandmother’s parents were from Mexico.” He's also spoken of his grandparents' former house in Boyle Heights being his second home.
Garcetti, argues Garza, "represents the 2.0 model of Latinos in L.A." At his press conference today in Echo Park, Garcetti talked about the multi-ethnic face of the city and of his own family, then shifted seamlessly into Spanish to deliver his message of Los Angeles as a world capital to the viewers listening on Univision and Telemundo. Garcetti, raised in the Valley partly by grandparents who spoke Spanish at home, famously spoke better Spanish than Antonio Villaraigosa when they both got to City Hall.