Five and a half more years. That’s how much more time L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will have in office, thanks to changes in election law.
On Saturday afternoon, the mayor will begin his second term, as he and other city officials will be inaugurated at City Hall. Among the luminaries performing at the inauguration will be George Takei, Angel Joy Blue and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
It will be a time for speeches and celebration, but it will also be a time for the mayor to reflect on his first term in office and think about the future. This super-sized term will be keeping him in office until the year 2022.
I caught up with Eric Garcetti earlier this week at his office. Below are some highlights of that chat from Friday’s Morning Edition.
On his and L.A’s role in the current national atmosphere:
I think in many ways, we're a united city in a divided nation. We are everything Washington says shouldn't work. If we’re a city of immigrants, we should be fearful of them and of each other, and yet, crime is still the same level it was in the 1950s, we have social cohesion and unity … As the White House pulls out of the Paris accords, we are implementing them here. So I think L.A.’s role is to just be that great American city looking toward the future, not looking towards the past, looking towards some sort of unity and continuity, not some sort of division.
On the possible fiscal consequences of opposing the Trump administration on issues like immigration and the environment:
Maybe I’m old-fashioned about this, but I think our values are not for sale. There’s no fiscal gun to the head that’s going to change who I am, and I don’t think Angelenos want to change who we are. In fact, it’s even more urgent and more necessary to show why these things are important practically … It’s not so much that you shouldn’t come out swinging, but you need to make the argument to Middle America and even to this administration – there are reasons this works.
On the biggest mistake he’s made so far:
I think early on, not connecting that the "basics" was something big. I think for the first two years people were saying, "Oh, you’re just doing little things, paving streets and trimming trees – I think that’s long gone now that we’ve raised the minimum wage and cut the business tax and done a bold earthquake plan and passed Measure M and HHH for homelessness. I also think that my biggest mistake was being too patient and deferential. Time goes so quickly … in the second term, I’ve told all my team, "I want you to feel all the urgency of day one in term one that you do day one of term two." I think the first year I wanted to do a lot of listening and let other people run, and I realized, this city elected me, my team is waiting for me to say, "Let’s go," to lead the charge … The biggest lesson I’ve learned is don’t wait. Go.
Click on the play button above to hear the interview in its entirety.