Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Election season descends on Los Angeles

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Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Campaigns mostly use cellular phones now, but people still need a place to call. This is one of the rooms at Jan Perry's mayoral campaign office, which opened on 31st Street near USC this weekend.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Jan Perry mingled among supporters and danced to a live band’s version of Sly and the Family Stone songs in a parking lot outside her new campaign office near USC Saturday.

“We just had a grand opening and it was raucous,” Perry says.

Raucous may be a bit of an overstatement, given the festivities included the aging former City Councilman and State Senator Nate Holden. Congresswoman Maxine Waters attended too.

No less than five Los Angeles city candidates brought out the balloons and formally opened new campaign offices this weekend. Almost all are pretty plain offices, with maps of voting prescincts and databases of potential supporters. Bad coffee, soda, and nuts are usually available. Sometimes fruit.

“Are you ready?” political aide Arturo Vargas shouted to a crowd packed into a new MacArthur Park office for former State Senator Gil Cedillo. “We’re fired up!” booms Vargas. 

Cedillo is running for the L.A. City Council’s first district seat, which stretches from west of downtown to Mount Washington. He faces Jose Gardea, the chief of staff to the current councilman, Ed Reyes, and four lesser-known candidates.

In a district like the first, fewer than 10,000 may vote. Social media is important. But phone banks and door-to-door canvassing by volunteers are better. These offices coordinate such acitvities.

“Until now, people were very involved in the presidential campaign and then the holidays. They didn’t want to hear more about politics,” Perry said. “People are interested now.”

The primary election is March 5. If no candidate garners more than 50 percent in the races, the top two finishers compete in a May runoff.

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