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Business Leaders Like Hertzberg in Mayor’s Race

Business Leaders Like Hertzberg in Mayor’s Race By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter The San Fernando Valley business community has given a warm reception to the candidacy of former California Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg of Sherman Oaks for mayor of Los Angeles. Hertzberg, now an attorney at the downtown office of Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, formally announced he was running on April 21. His decision came several days after Mayor James K. Hahn rolled out a budget proposal seeking to cut the city budget for the upcoming year. Long rumored to be interested in running for the position, Hertzberg joins State Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Sylmar) as official candidates for the mayoral election to be held next year. Other possible candidates, both of which have yet to formally declare their candidacy, are city council members Bernard Parks and Antonio Villaraigosa. Although he left Sacramento in 2002 because of term limits, Hertzberg, a Democrat, has been an adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has helped the Republican governor smooth out relations with the predominantly Democratic state legislature. In vying for the position of mayor of Los Angeles, Hertzberg said he believes his ability to work across party lines will be a strong asset, in addition he cites his extensive experience working in various capacities throughout the city. “I plan to have a vision and work closely with the city council just like I worked with the Assembly,” Hertzberg said in an interview with the Business Journal. With respect to business, and the Valley in particular, Hertzberg said his priorities would be to identify crucial industry clusters and develop policies that would help them improve. “Let’s have policies that attract rather than detract jobs,” Hertzberg said. In a statement titled “Moving Los Angeles Forward,” Hertzberg said he would “unveil a detailed strategy to focus all departments of the city on our economic competitiveness,” with job creation as a central theme. He also introduced an interactive weblog on the Internet (www.bobhertzberg.com). Regarding his close relationship with Schwarzenegger, Hertzberg called it an “advantage” over his opponents. But he chose to stress his local experience. “The biggest thing that gives me the edge is (experience working) in different areas of the city,” he said. In his statement, Hertzberg mentioned he has worked to bring affordable housing to Lincoln Heights, provide a youth center in south Los Angeles and has volunteered in pre-schools throughout L.A. Members of the Valley’s business community who were asked for their impressions of Hertzberg as a mayor brought up diplomatic ability and bipartisanship as a strength. Although all stopped short of endorsement, they weren’t shy on accolades for the newly minted mayoral candidate. “I think he’s a real problem solver, I think what he showed in Sacramento is that he knows how to get deals out, whether through the energy crisis or water wars,” said Fred Gaines, a managing partner in the Encino-based law firm Gaines & Stacey who specializes in real estate and land use issues. Gaines, who worked with Hertzberg at the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, called the Sherman Oaks resident’s decision to run “great news,” and described Hertzberg as “energetic, bipartisan, creative and a real roll-up-the-sleeves kind of guy.” Diplomatic ability He accented Hertzberg’s diplomatic ability, in particular: “I think he can cut through the red tape and make the city much more business friendly,” Gaines said. And Gaines said he thought he wasn’t alone. “There are a lot of people in the real estate industry that support his candidacy.” Bonny Herman, VICA president and CEO, also said Hertzberg’s ability to work in a bipartisan fashion makes him a strong candidate. And although she stopped short of endorsing him, she complimented Hertzberg and said she believes he was a good candidate to unseat Hahn. “I think he’s much more balanced and open. (There is a) higher probability there will be more compromise with someone who has a relationship with (Schwarzenegger),” Herman said. “I think that people will be very interested in this candidacy, people have worked with him on many projects, (because) he’s accessible and he’s approachable.” Bruce Ackerman, president of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, said Hertzberg has an advantage over his opponents in the race because he has “a statewide presence” and because as a result of working in downtown L.A. he will have a “wider pull.” Hertzberg tapped David Fleming, an attorney in the Universal City offices of the international law firm of Latham & Watkins, to join his campaign team. The team includes a group of leaders from L.A.’s business, civic and philanthropic organizations and communities. “(Hertzberg) has always been pro-business he understands the needs of business,” Fleming said. “We’ve been talking about business tax reform for years.” Sandra Frohlich, executive director of the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce, said Hertzberg has been “responsive to our concerns and willing to share his point of view and things he was trying to accomplish.” Given his background, she said, Hertzberg would be an “interesting” addition to the mayoral race. David Goodreau of the Small Manufacturers Association of California said he likes Hertzberg because he “can work both sides of the aisle” in Sacramento. Also, the ex-Assembly speaker’s ability to “take a stand” has impressed Goodreau. “The thing I like about (Hertzberg) is that he is charismatic and he is a leader,” Goodreau, of Sherman Oaks, said. “We need people that can really motivate.”

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