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Special Election Draws A Crowd

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Wendy Greuel left her city council post to be our new city controller, and now 14 candidates are vying for her District 2/San Fernando Valley seat.

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The L.A. Times has already declared three candidates--two of them sitting politicians already--as the only viable ones, failing to even name most of the others in the running. The Times says:

With just two months to raise money, a number of City Hall watchers are eyeing several strong contenders: former Paramount Pictures executive Chris Essel; state Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, a Democrat who lived in Burbank until moving this spring to Valley Glen; and Los Angeles Unified School District board member Tamar Galatzan.

The Daily News has a more thorough list of the candidates:


Others in the race include former Paramount executive Christine Essel, school board member Tamar Galatzan, businessman Frank Sheftel, neighborhood council leader Mary Benson, county commissioner Jozef "Joe" Thomas Essavi, Valley community leader Laurette Healey, neighborhood council board member Michael McCue, teacher Louis Pugliese and Navy reservist Erich Klain.

Former Daily News editor Ron Kaye thinks the media-anointed candidates are City Hall tools and "carpetbaggers":

....the political manipulators anointed not one but two candidates to confuse and divide the electorate. Their picks are Chris Essel, a Westside elitist who has served the machine without blinking on the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Airport Commission, and Democratic Assemblyman Paul Krekorian of Glendale, who's done such a fine job of pushing the state toward bankruptcy that he's fully qualified to help the city along in that direction.

How the mayor, public employee unions, developers, contractors and lobbyists divide themselves in support of both Essel and Krekorian is still being worked out but you can be sure they will both be heavily endowed with oodles of campaign cash.

They will need as much money as they can get their hands on since both are carpetbaggers with phony addresses in CD2 but polls show voters - in their ignorance, apathy and defeatism -- are less concerned about such matters than whether they recognize the candidate's name from mailers sent by fictitious groups that appeal to the prejudices.

Kaye prefers what he calls the "citizen candidates":

At one point, it seemed like everyone who lived in CD2 would run but now it appears the citizen candidates are Frank Sheftel, a candy-maker and medicinal marijuana cooperative operator, Mary Benson, a long-time activist with extensive knowledge planning issues and Michael McCue, a Studio City Neighborhood Council leader with a passion for community empowerment as the antidote to machine control of the city.

Five hundred signatures must still be gathered by every prospective candidate to actually be on the ballot for the September 22 primary election to fill the remaining two years in Greuel's term.

Local City Council-tormenting political gadfly Zuma Dogg is seeking the seat as well, and is regularly jabbing at his opponents on his "L.A. Daily" blog.

This May L.A. Times story on the city's ongoing fiscal crisis might make you wonder why anyone even wants the job.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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