Couple of nice posts up from Zocalo's session last month on why there are not more women in City Hall. Robin Kramer was the first chief of staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and had held the same post for Mayor Richard Riordan. She is currently senior advisor to the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands. Here's her short Q-A — Zocalo likes to drop in some quirky questions. Excerpt:
Q: When did you last get a traffic ticket?
A: One traffic ticket my whole life. Utah, like 4 in the morning. My husband and I were driving to and from Denver. First, I got a ticket speeding, but it was that time of day. And then an hour later, he did. So, Utah—not one of our favorite places....
Q: What don’t you miss about City Hall?
A: I do not miss getting calls at 3 a.m. that an officer has been shot or that something has gone wrong. I don’t miss the 24/7 nature of it, which was unrelenting. That’s what I don’t miss.
Q: What’s your favorite L.A. restaurant?
A: We like Prado, which is on Larchmont Boulevard. It’s Caribbean, family-oriented, great food, convivial—no screaming—funky. There are many fine restaurants here, but it’s of a type. Great people, too.
KPCC reporter Alice Walton also took some Zocalo questions in the green room at the City Hall women event. Excerpt:
Q: What tweet are you most proud of?
A: The ones that are quirkiest seem to be the best and are the most fun and most enjoyed. Last week I had a tweet about finding a cockroach in the paper towel dispenser at City Hall, and people loved that. People tweeted back their cockroach stories. I even got a call from KTLA wanting to do a story on it. So stuff like that’s pretty good, or any time I can tweet about what a city councilmember is doing during a meeting, that’s pretty funny.
Q: What’s your favorite cliché?
A: Probably that things always work out. It’s such a cliché, and I don’t even know what it means, but I think it’s a helpful thing to keep in mind if you’re frustrated or bothered by something.
Q: Besides women and fewer cockroaches, what does L.A. politics need more of?
A: I think it needs people to be way more engaged. I don’t think the average Angeleno knows what City Hall should be doing for them, and doesn’t know what to expect of their elected officials.
The dearth-of-women panel also included Mariel Garza, the opinion editor for the Los Angeles News Group, and Linda Griego, who ran for mayor in 1993. Here's a Zocalo write-up of the discussion. Sample:
What we don’t have, said Kramer, is “the machine that galvanizes people to get into politics”—the role that political parties used to play. But this means there’s also an opening: “The moment is ripe for a multiethnic, a multicultural group of women and men—principally led by women—to create a pipeline to nurture and support women to run for office.”
Looking at the most recent mayoral race, Garza asked the panelists if they felt gender was an issue.
Griego said that while the candidates couldn’t say, “Vote for me because I’m a woman,” she didn’t think there was a gender backlash.
But Walton said that when the prospect of Wendy Greuel becoming L.A.’s first female mayor came up on the air and on social media, commenters weren’t very nice. “People would ask, so what?” she said. And missing from the conversation were the benefits of creating a culture of equality and a role model for young women.
Greuel definitely tried to work the first-woman angle hard as her campaign faltered, but she found it just didn't take with enough voters.