Given the chance to assemble the ideal mayor from the ground up, Valley Industry and Commerce Association Chairman Marty Cooper would build a six million dollar mayor who appeals to every ethnic group and political ideology. “He would be a Jewish Latino Christian who would fight for more government services and lower taxes,” Cooper joked. “He would never use the phrase ‘over the hill,’ and would give every non-profit in the San Fernando Valley as much money as they need to do all the good work they do. And he’d never find a pot hole he couldn’t fix.” Funny, but considering how close this primary is shaping up to be, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Jim Hahn next week visiting a synagogue on his way to a quinceanera for a supporter’s daughter, followed by a speech promising to do away with city’s tax code altogether while doubling the size of the police force. But joking aside, Cooper says that as far as he can see, Valley voters don’t want shameless pandering anymore than the rest of the city does. Although the mayor may be getting tired of hearing it, the Valley wants someone who’s not afraid to be loud and showy in driving the city. “I think our mayor has to be someone who, to quote Teddy Roosevelt, would use the bully pulpit to energize people, to create and lead a vision of the city.” Specifically, he hopes the vision would lead away from overregulation of the business community, and closer to reforming the city’s business tax system even further. After the Council unanimously passed significant business tax reform last year, VICA gave Valley Council Members half of a plaque, and promised the other half once the Council has finished the job. Cooper reminded Councilman Greig Smith of the groups’ expectations after Smith spoke at a VICA luncheon last week. “It’s like the old Virginia Slims commercial,” Cooper said. “We’ve come a long way baby, but we’ve still got a long way to go.” Not surprisingly, a large portion of the Valley’s business community has united around Bob Hertzberg as the best hope for the city. His being a native helps, Cooper says, as does his compromise to secession that would have established a system of New York City style boroughs in Los Angeles. Even though it came late in the game, the plan gave Hertzberg some credibility in discussing such a contentious topic. Hertzberg certainly speaks to Valley voters hearts, and in person he projects a sincerity that makes it easy to imagine him fighting for change at City Hall. His image as a business-friendly Democrat, who assembled a coalition of moderate Democrats to protect business interests while in Sacramento, is soothing to the voices that cried out against raising the sales tax saying it would chase more business out of Los Angeles. Valley demands The Valley obviously has plenty of demands for the city’s next mayor, but residents would of course love to see one of their own take this election, no matter who it is. After all in addition to listing policy requirements, Cooper said whoever is mayor after this next election “has to visit the Valley without using the phrase ‘it’s nice to come out here and visit the Valley.'” Emphasis, as always, on the “out here.” The campaign’s underdog, Richard Alarcon, is of course also a Valley native. Alarcon’s performance at each of the many mayoral debates has usually been nothing short of impressive, but he’s yet to make any significant impact in any election polls. The state senator is hardly giving up, however. Even with a comparatively small budget, Alarcon is airing several small campaign commercials. While he admits to being a liberal Democrat, Alarcon is doing his part to reach out to the business community. Although he authored a bill that would have required Wal-Mart Supercenters to prepare an economic impact study before opening in California, he’s been proudly saying for the last few months that he helped bring the city’s first Wal-Mart to Panorama City and anchor dozens of local businesses in the process. Alarcon also takes credit for revitalizing a long abandoned General Motors plant and turning it into a working manufacturing and retail center employing 4,000 people, and closing the Lopez Canyon Landfill. Hertzberg, however, built more of a public profile working in Sacramento, and it shows. His big plans, like breaking up the LAUSD and hiring 1,000 new police officers without raising taxes, are short on specifics but they attract attention. Valley voters who don’t care one way or the other about Hertzberg’s economic policies may give him credit for securing the funding for the Orange Line that will start carrying bus passengers through the Valley this summer. Voters anxious to see reform in City Hall might be impressed by his pledges to spend money on more police officers before giving raises to city employees. Hertzberg has still yet to show whether his message has circulated well among non-Valley voters, though. His campaign does claim that he’s fighting with Hahn for third place in the upcoming primaries in recent polls. Los Angeles political experts consistently report that he may be the mayor’s most dangerous opponent, but a lot of those predictions may be hinging on pundits’ perceptions that Villaraigosa’s campaign has lost the gleam it had four years ago. March 8 may show us that Villaraigosa can still ignite the city’s populist spirit, and that Jim Hahn has been relatively undamaged by Fleishman Hilliard, Bernard Parks’ dismissal and secession. In that case the Valley business community is going to find itself hard pressed to back someone without holding their noses. They might end up having to cut their losses and hope for the best with Hahn. In fact, “Hope for the Best With Hahn” may be a perfect slogan for the final days of the primary campaign. Staff Reporter Jonathan D. Colburn can be reached at (818) 316-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who’s the Ideal Mayor for Valley Business Community?