Observing Los Angeles

Now everyone knows: women are scarce at LA City Hall

garcetti-greuel-alcorn-nyt-grab.jpgI just glanced at the New York Times home page and there at the top were the faces of Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, standing awkwardly at some long-forgotten debate in the mayoral race. No, it wasn't my web browser's cache or a mistake by the Times. The story by LA bureau chief Adam Nagourney looks at the sudden dearth of elected women in local government here. Here's how he gets into it:

There are 1.9 million women in Los Angeles. The two senators from California are women, as is the state’s attorney general.

But this city, a bastion of progressive politics, has a curious distinction these days. Only one woman holds elective office in the entire government of Los Angeles, a member of the 15-person City Council from the San Fernando Valley who was sworn in only on Friday.

The mayor is a man, Eric M. Garcetti, who defeated a woman, Wendy Greuel, for the job in May. The city attorney is a man. The city controller? You guessed it.

Los Angeles County, with a population of 9.9 million that includes Los Angeles, has just one woman on its five-member Board of Supervisors. And the race to fill the City Council seat for Hollywood, which Mr. Garcetti vacated when he was elected mayor, gave voters a choice of 12 candidates — all men.

The lack of women "has become a subject of considerable chagrin, civic embarrassment and impassioned discussions about exactly what happened," says Nagourney. He then introduces the nation to the only elected woman left in City Hall. “When I was in elementary school, there were like five women on the City Council,” said Nury Martinez, who took office last week as a City Council member from the Valley. “It’s a shame and embarrassing that in a city of four million people we are down to one woman.” There's general hand wringing, and the observation that the number of women in office is sagging nationally, and also that in LA it's less of a comment on the electorate because there have been women in office here pretty steadily since at least the 1950s.

LA political consultant Donna Bojarsky also gets quote time: "The role model aspect of this is very troubling,” she said. “It’s not a good picture for an up-and-coming generation.”

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