Sunday evening, Eric Garcetti will be sworn in as mayor of Los Angeles. He's been fairly quiet since his May election, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been working behind the scenes on the transition into his new role.
For six weeks, a tight knit circle of advisers has been preparing Garcetti. They’ve pored over 2,000 applications for jobs and commission appointments, and they’ve held listening tours throughout the city.
"There’s learning that goes on during the transition. Not just planning, but also a tremendous amount of learning," said Robin Kramer, who served as chief of staff to mayors Richard Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa.
The transition is an important time because it allows a mayor-elect to think about the culture of his office, according to Kramer.
"For the mayor and his staff, what does that look like for us?" she said. "Every one of our city leaders has approached that somewhat differently."
And style may be the first hint as to what Angelenos can expect from Mayor Garcetti. He didn’t give any major policy talks during the transition, and his only personnel announcement was the selection of Ana Guerrero as his chief of staff. That’s a contrast to Villaraigosa, who stocked his transition team with big names and made high-profile appearances throughout the city.
"Eric Garcetti is very low key, would not like a larger-than-life event and, of course, this is what we’re seeing," said Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at Cal State L.A.
Even after July 1, a Garcetti advisor says it could be weeks – maybe even months – before Angelenos see major policy announcements from the mayor’s office. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be things to look for in Garcetti’s first 100 days or so in office.
"We will have a feel for his priorities," Regalado said. "What he’s going to be doing, how much of a manager indeed he intends to be, at least for his first year or two. And then his selections for people to fill major commission appointments."
Rich Llewellyn is heading the Garcetti transition team. He says Angelenos are helping set the new mayor’s priorities, by focusing on jobs. The new mayor will have the advantage of a healthy city budget and an improving local economy. While there will be enormous demands on Garcetti's time and attention in just a few days, Llewellyn said he’s not making any hasty decisions.
"We talked to the people who were involved in the Riordan, Hahn and Villaraigosa transitions, and one of the things they all said to us was, do not try to do everything by July 1," Llewellyn said. "You will make mistakes by doing things too fast. Better to be careful than speedy."
Llewellyn has known the mayor-elect since his father was district attorney. He says the two men share a similar style:
"One, they are truly decent people. They are collaborative and listeners and — something that isn’t always apparent, because they’re sort of nice guys who try to work with you — [they have] absolute backbones of steel."
Eric Garcetti's inauguration is set for 6 p.m. on Sunday.