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Getting to know the personal side of mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti

Candidate in the Los Angeles City mayoral race, Councilman Eric Garcetti kisses his wife Amy Wakeland after they voted at Allesandro Elementary School on March 5, 2013 in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Candidate in the Los Angeles City mayoral race, Councilman Eric Garcetti kisses his wife Amy Wakeland after they voted at Allesandro Elementary School on March 5, 2013 in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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Los Angeles Mayor race 2013In exactly two weeks, we'll be reporting the results of the LA mayor's race. The two candidates, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti have been campaigning for months, and we've tried to cover all the issues they've been debating in the campaign.

But we thought it would make sense to try and get each of them to open up a bit. Learn a little more about what they are like, as people. Yesterday we ran an extended interview with Wendy Greuel, and today, we'll hear from her opponent, Eric Garcetti.

Alex caught up with him last weekend, after an event in Central Los Angeles.

Interview Highlights:

On his childhood growing up in the Valley:
"Classic valley boy experience. Hanging out at the miniature gold place, the Galleria, riding the RTD bus, going with friends on bikes and just exploring the Valley. A lot of Tommy's Burgers a lot of Carvel's soft serve ice cream. It felt very idyllic, it was the middle of nowhere, but at the same time the middle of the universe, because you could see reruns of the Brady Bunch and you knew that it was the Valley. You knew that the world was aware of you, but you also felt beautifully anonymous."

On how he came to politics:
"I don't think I ever decided to pursue a career in politics, but I always knew that I wanted to help make the world better to help create social change and economic and social justice, I didn't know whether that would be doing human rights work like I had done abroad and in Los Angeles, I didn't know if it was going to be continuing teaching, which I was doing before I got elected. Running for office is one of the ways you can do it, it'll be only one of the ways that I do this in my life, but I'm more committed to public service than politics."

On what makes Los Angeles so special:
"There's a cliche that you see the face of the world on the streets of Los Angeles, growing up here in this diverse city, I always found the opposite to be true, too. You'd see the face of Los Angeles on the streets of the world. I could be in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, I could be in Tokyo, Mumbai, Mexico City and they look like LA in a certain neighborhood in Los Angeles there's no difference. So I think there's a comfort that I have in making sure not only that we have strong ties internationally, but an ability to go out there and make sure that we're tied to the global economy and ready to be at the front of the line."

How his past international work influences his views of LA:
"For folks that come here from around the world, I'm ready to understand and help. I know that people have fled wars and economic conditions that I haven't just seen, that I've lived amidst and seen wars firsthand, I've seen the level of poverty, the lack of health care, all those things that drive people here. I also understand that people come here not fully knowing how things work in Los Angeles. Our success will be tied to fully integrating them in, just as my grandparents were, just as my own family came here from Europe and Mexico had no idea how things worked, but found a path to success."

On why he offers open office hours:
"You might be talking to a head of state back-to-back with a homeless person who has recently lost their job and their apartment and desperate. You're the last stop they have to try to get their life back on track. You have to learn to be a great listener, it's the most important thing in politics, and both the classroom as a teacher taught me that...same thing in politics, if you think you're just supposed to give good speeches at press conferences, you'll never solve people's problems...Office hours has been my way to stay grounded, to make sure people never have too many layers between them and me and that I'll always be held accountable."

On why he has kept his family behind the scenes during his campaign:
"I think family time is sacred. I think families are for all of us, places of strength and deep enjoyment, and I'm not interested in that being a part of my politics. There will be some unavoidable things for my family, we made the choice together and there are always public aspects to it. I didn't grow up in politics, a lot of people think that I did. My dad ran when I was graduated from college, actually, he won and was sworn in as district attorney, but I saw that nevertheless as a family member. It can really take a toll when someone you love and know as a great person is being attacked for something. I'm very protective of my family as a father as a husband, I decided to do this with them, but it's my professional life, it doesn't have to be their personal life."