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Carpetbaggers Plaguing District Race?

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L.A. Council District 2 has an empty seat--worth, like all L.A. City Council seats, $178,000 a year plus plentiful perks. And the upcoming election to fill that seat is attracting many outsiders to the San Fernando Valley, so some see the election a mandate in whether the "downtown establishment" will get a new foothold in the Valley.

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This L.A. Weekly article by Jason S. Mandell lays out the case that outside-valley interests are trying to take control of this valley seat, open because its previous holder, Wendy Grueul, won her race for city controller.

The current two leading candidates, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian and former Paramount exec Christine Essel, are both valley outsiders who moved into the district just to run for seat, in critics' eyes. The Weekly piece sums up the case against them:

Essel and Krekorian represent a rare -- and maybe the very first -- effort by dueling factions of the downtown establishment to stack a Valley race with two, monied, non-Valley residents and thus try to ensure that a non-Valley outsider wins and controls the powerful seat.

Essel is backed by ex-mayor and Brentwood resident Richard Riordan and is expected to get Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's nod. But that's not much of a plus among residents fed up with Villaraigosa, who failed to win 50 percent of the vote last March in numerous CD 2 precincts in Valley Village, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys and Sunland-Tujunga.

Krekorian is backed by SEIU, the state's powerful, public employees union, whose successful pressure on Villaraigosa and the City Council to raise city-worker salaries and increase taxes and fees on Angelenos has created tense relations with tax-averse Valley residents, who distrust SEIU. The negative reactions to Essel and Krekorian and their backers are fueling hopes that two of the eight other contenders -- none of them carpetbaggers and all of them winning strong applause at candidate forums -- will prevail in an election set for September 22, and that two genuine Valley residents will face each other in a runoff on December 8.

If Krekorian wins, there will need to be another special election--to fill his Assembly seat. That would cost a cash-strapped California a million bucks.

In other CD-2 race coverage, Mayor Sam's blog has been invaluable in tight and thorough coverage of the race. Some examples: the blog reprints some Sunland-Tujunga community leaders endorsing Tamar Galatzan for the seat; gives a complete report on an all-candidate public forum in Sherman Oaks from earlier this week; and bitterly attacks the L.A. Times's endorsement of Essel for the seat.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Alexbcthompson. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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