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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Mayor-Elect Scrutinized by Business

After throwing a high energy election night party and becoming the city’s first Latino mayor in over 100 years, Antonio Villaraigosa won’t have long to start proving that he is the right choice for the job. The mayor-elect made some bold promises during his campaign, leading voters to believe he’d extend the city’s subway system, dramatically improve education and keep crime rates trending downward. Local business people and councilpeople will also be watching closely to see how the new mayor will work to invigorate the economy once he’s sworn into office this coming July. Former Mayor Richard Riordan, who supported Sherman Oaks attorney Bob Hertzberg in the March primary before siding with Hertzberg’s former state Assembly colleague in last week’s runoff, said that Villaraigosa has the energy to get Los Angeles moving again. “He’s dynamic, he’s electric, he’s hard working,” Riordan said. “He will go to bed dreaming about the city, wake up thinking about it, think about it all day and I think he’ll be a great mayor.” Riordan said that Villaraigosa will need to surround himself with more capable people than Hahn has relied on, and he said that the mayor-elect has promised to re-form Riordan’s business team. Villaraigosa will need the city’s best business minds, Riordan said, to “help him solve the problems of the city, to make the city better something I did,” Riordan said. “Bruce Karatz (chairman and chief executive officer of KB Home) came in and computerized the police department. . .Eli Broad built Disney Hall. . .Staples is there because of Steve Soboroff.” Robert Rodine, a management consultant in Sherman Oaks who has been a proponent of the economic uses of Van Nuys Airport, said he’s worried about Villaraigosa’s track record supporting the businesses that use the airport. “I worry that those of us in the business community who plead before the mayor for intelligent governance in the realm of air commerce will probably be rebuffed,” said Rodine. “Last (Tuesday) I was really nervous. Mayor (Hahn) hasn’t been the best mayor, but his behavior has heretofore not been driven with the same indifference toward business that I suspect of Councilman Villaraigosa.” Rodine said he has met with Villaraigosa on two occasions to talk about the airport and consistently given the impression that the mayor-elect will side with homeowners who want to limit use of the airport because of the noise some airplanes make. Mel Kohn, the vice-chair of VICA’s taxation committee and an active participant in the shaping of last year’s business tax reform legislation, said he looks forward to meeting with Villaraigosa in the next few weeks. Hahn met with the Citizens for Business Tax Reform Now!, a VICA-sponsored coalition, in the days before the election. Villaraigosa could not make the meeting, Kohn said, but he requested a meeting after the election. Kohn said he has no reason to think Villaraigosa won’t support further cuts in the city’s business taxes. “On the City Council he supported business tax reform, the council was unanimous in supporting the reforms that came out of the ad hoc committee and went up to the city council,” he said. Kohn said that the cuts have already proven to be a benefit for the city. “We really proved what we said we would do. We’re getting the benefits: we’re attracting business and we’re not losing revenue, so we can proceed with the rest of the cuts,” he said. Councilman Dennis Zine and Council President Alex Padilla both spoke before Villaraigosa took the stage on Tuesday night, saying they looked forward to seeing the mayor-elect work more closely with the neighborhood councils. Later, Padilla said he hopes Villaraigosa will be a force for further economic development in the Northeast Valley. “When it comes to economic development, that’s the thing that Antonio can clearly achieve better than Jim Hahn,” said Padilla, adding that the region is looking for the next big, sustaining economic engine. “It takes somebody the likes of Antonio Villaraigosa to bring people together, to commit their resources to get that excitement and dedication toward moving in a certain direction,” he said. “We’re competing not just on a regional level but a national and international level when it comes to these burgeoning industries.” Padilla said he was confident that the City Council will work well with Villaraigosa despite the fact that the Council was split over supporting each of the candidates. “Antonio Villaraigosa understands that for his administration to be successful, he’s got to work with the Council, he’s got to work with the president of the Council, there has to be a good working relationship,” said Padilla. “It’s something that I was honestly hoping for four years ago, with Jim Hahn and we never saw it materialize.”

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