Weekend politics: Garcetti and Wakeland

Thumbnail image for garcetti-wakeland-doting-gary.jpg

You would be hard-pressed to find a more complimentary opinion piece about Eric Garcetti as the future mayor than Harold Meyerson's op-ed column in the Washington Post. Los Angeles is "poised for rebirth with Mayor Garcetti," he writes:

In electing Eric Garcetti their mayor on Tuesday, voters here chose a candidate who personifies the multiracial, multicultural city of L.A.’s hipster youth....Not since New York was governed by Fiorello La Guardia — an Italian Episcopalian who had a Jewish mother — has a mayor been a better demographic fit for so polyglot a city.

Garcetti fits today’s L.A. in part because, unlike La Guardia, he wears his ethnic identities so lightly: He’s the perfect elected leader for the “race doesn’t matter” young Obama backers who like their pols as slim, smart (Garcetti was a Rhodes Scholar), cool and post-ethnic as Barack Obama himself. Actually, in several particulars, cooler: Garcetti plays a mean jazz piano in a Keith Jarrett-esque mode; he resides in hipper-than-thou Silver Lake; and his main achievement in his 12 years representing Hollywood on the city council has been to help revitalize his long-bedraggled, if world-famous, district, making it safe again for middle-class revelers while requiring developers to build affordable housing and employers to pay living wages........

Garcetti will surely make a name for himself as an environmental leader and social progressive — joining such other relatively young California Democrats as state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (and outgoing mayor Villaraigosa) as most likely to succeed the state’s septuagenarian Democratic leaders: Gov. Jerry Brown and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. But as mayor of Los Angeles, Garcetti will be the best positioned of this younger cohort to build a more vibrant economy. The world will soon know just how cool he is.

In the LA Times, Michael Finnegan and James Rainey discuss the role of Amy Wakeland as "a powerful player in Garcetti's political life but one who fiercely guards their family's privacy."

With Garcetti's inauguration five weeks away, Wakeland, 43, will soon need to reconcile her fondness for a low profile with the platform that her husband's position will offer to advance causes that she has worked on for years.

"Environmental issues, economic justice issues, combating sexual violence — those are the things I care about," Wakeland said in a recent conversation over dinner with Garcetti at an Italian restaurant near their Silver Lake home.

Wakeland's deep involvement in Garcetti's political career has led to speculation at City Hall on how big a force she will be in shaping his agenda and administration. Friends and foes alike say there's no doubt Wakeland is a full partner not just in Garcetti's personal life but also his professional life....

Wakeland ran field operations in Garcetti's maiden run for City Council in 2001. "She basically ran it like a military operation," said Sean Burton, a longtime friend of the couple.

At the time, Garcetti and Wakeland lived in Echo Park, where they renovated a sleek hillside home with cutting-edge environmental features that earned the couple a photo spread in Dwell, the design magazine. In one shot, Wakeland, wearing red gardening gloves, posed squatting in a backyard vegetable patch.

The home, like the larger Silver Lake house where Wakeland and Garcetti live now, was often a bustling social scene. "They have a vast friendship network, really from around the world," said Burton, who described their home as "almost like a salon."

"When people come to town, Eric and Amy say, 'Come stay with us.'"

The piece says that Garcetti and Wakeland have been foster parents to seven children, then adopted Maya, now 17 months, during the mayoral campaign.

And from Asbarez.com:

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) and its 5 local chapters in the City of Los Angeles, ANCA Hollywood, ANCA Crescenta Valley, ANCA San Fernando Valley East, West and North congratulate Eric Garcetti on being elected as the next Mayor for the great City of Los Angeles....

“The ANCA-WR congratulates Mr. Garcetti and looks forward to continuing its strong working relationship with him,” stated Elen Asatryan, ANCA-WR Executive Director. “We are confident that he will move the City of Los Angeles in the right direction as Mayor and will continue to stand strong on issues of importance to his large Armenian-American constituent base,” continued Asatryan.

As the councilmember representing Little Armenia, Garcetti has always been a great friend and a strong supporter on issues of concern to the Armenian-American community. His many accomplishments include consistently calling upon the U.S. Government to recognize the independence of Artsakh and the Armenian Genocide, helping initiate the sister-city partnership between Los Angeles and Yerevan, advocating for city council to add Armenian language to election ballots and materials, and providing funding to support programs and projects of many community based organizations and projects such as the Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen L.A., Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and the Armenian Youth Federation. As Mayor, Garcetti will be representing over 150,000 Armenian-Americans that live in the City of Los Angeles.

Photo of Wakeland and Garcetti: Gary Leonard

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Politics stories on LA Observed:
Doug Jeffe: a remembrance
Politicians, pay your bill
Elizabeth Warren at the Alex Theatre
Rats, demon cats and politicians from LA to Washington
John C. Reilly and Jackie Goldberg
The death of Lyndon LaRouche and lessons unlearned
Green New Deal
Madeleine Albright