Mayor Eric Garcetti's first morning as the leader of Los Angeles was spent convening an economic roundtable to hear what the city does well — and where it falls short — when it comes to business.
The new mayor invited leaders from a dozen chambers of commerce to talk about their experiences. Noticeably absent from the meeting were the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. Garcetti told the roundtable he doesn't want to keep going to the same well for new ideas. But it should be noted that both those groups backed Garcetti's runoff opponent, Wendy Greuel.
As for his staff, the new mayor said he plans to have just four deputy mayors — a third as many as his predecessor.
"We've been actually talking to a lot of people and we've been reaching out to a lot of Los Angeles and throughout the country," Garcetti said. "Seeking the best people and hiring them requires a lot of interviews."
So far, about 125 people have been hired by the mayor's office. They include:
- Eileen Decker, Interim Deputy Mayor for Public Safety
- Borja Leon, Director of Transportation
- Heather Repenning, Director of External Affairs
- Yusef Robb, Director of Communications
- Kelli Bernard, Interim Chief of Economic Development
- Jim Clarke, Strategic Partnerships
Garcetti then spent his afternoon doing different sorts of interviews. Twelve Angelenos each had 15 minutes with the mayor to talk about the issues that are important to them.
"The first things that you do is set the tone for the culture that you'll have in your office," Garcetti told reporters before his meetings. "I want people to know I'll be accessible. I can't meet with four million people but you don't have to be a campaign donor, you don't have to be a big lobbyist, you don't have to be the head of an association to meet with your mayor."
First up were representatives from The Midnight Mission on Skid Row. The group's Georgia Berkovich said she liked what Garcetti had to say about homelessness during the campaign:
"He would always talk about his desire not to just make homelessness better, but to actually end homelessness, which you kind of think, How is that possible?, but that's really his goal."
She was followed by came Amanda Alonso and Michael Konowitz. Alonso is a driver for the rideshare company Lyft and Konowitz is a frequent customer due to a disability that makes it difficult to walk without pain. They urged Garcetti to help taxi alternatives stay in business.
"We actually weren't expecting to meet with the mayor," Konowitz said. "We thought we were just going to get the staff so that was a nice surprise to actually get to talk to the new mayor on his first day."