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Zev Yaroslavsky is out of LA Mayor’s race, and plans to leave politics

Campaigning for the Los Angeles City Council at age 26, with wife Barbara.
Campaigning for the Los Angeles City Council at age 26, with wife Barbara.

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Officially, he’s Supervisor Yaroslavsky, holding one of the most powerful positions in local government. But you probably know him simply as Zev.

He’s been the silent candidate in the Los Angeles mayor’s race — with nearly 40 years of experience between his time in the City Council and on LA County’s Board of Supervisors, he might have upended every other campaign.

But as Zev announced on his blog today, he will not throw his name in the hat. “Four decades is long enough for any citizen to hold elective office,” Yaraoslavsky said in a statement. He plans to leave the political arena when his term at Supervisor is up in December, 2014.

Zev explains his decision on AirTalk:

On the decision not to run:
"I've been doing this job as an elected official ... for over 37.5 years. It was a close call for me because I care about the city and I thought I could bring my talents and expertise to help turn the city's fortunes around – I think the city has a lot of challenges but a lot of opportunities. But at the end of the day, I was pulled in the other direction. I don't want to be doing this for eight more years. I don't want to be doing this until I'm 73-years-old."

On how his family factored into the decision:
"It's an entirely personal decision. I have a new granddaughter up north; every time I go see her I feel very guilty about leaving my post. I think when I retire from elected office in 2014, it will be close to 40 years, and I think four decades is enough for any official to serve."

On what he's going to miss:
"I'm not sure I'm going to miss anything, to be honest with you. In life, you change jobs, you change careers, you retire ... and you move on."

On his plans for the future:
"I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about exactly what I'm going to do. I want to write, I may want to teach – I certainly will be involved in the body of politic in the city of Los Angeles in some fashion – but I'll do it as a citizen, and not as a politician, not as an elected official."

On how politics don't consume his whole life:
"It's hard for people to understand this, especially in the political class, but my life doesn't revolve around coveting the next office. I've only held two offices in 37 years ... I've been very fulfilled and very gratified by the opportunities that I've been given by the people who elected me."

On how his lifestyle will change:
"I don't know. I'm a 'type A' personality, I've burned the candle at both ends, I haven't had a legitimate vacation of more than five days in 25 years. I thrive on this and I love it, but I'm at the point where I can say honestly to myself and to my constituents that come December 2nd, 2014, I will have had enough and I want to do some other things."

On the difficulty of the coming mayoral election and its impact on his decision:
"Obviously no election is a slam dunk, but I don't think anybody would argue ... that I certainly was right in believing I had as good a shot as anybody winning that election."

On how the length of the term was an issue:
"It wasn't about the election. It was about doing it for eight more years. Mayor of Los Angeles — mayor of any big city — is a very high-stress job, not all of it productive, but all of it stress. Doing that till I'm 73 years old, then what? I don’t want to regret in 2021 the things that I didn't do."

On whether or not health reasons influenced his decision:
"Absolutely no health reasons. I did one of my fastest four mile runs this morning. I'm watching my health very carefully. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about 12 years ago, and that's well under control."

On whether or not he'll endorse someone in the mayor's race:
"I have not given that any thought. It's obviously too early for me to even think about that, but I know them all. They're all good people ... I'll talk to all of them. I heard from a couple of them already this morning, and I'll try to be as much help in giving them my unsolicited advice as possible. I've never played that game of exacting concessions in exchange for an endorsement. First of all, I don't think that endorsements are all that they're cracked up to be. I think people vote for the candidate and they're a lot less influenced by the people who support them than most of us think they are."

On the issues the next mayor will have to face:
"I'm going to be an advocate with all of them on the issues that I think are important. I think transportation in the city of Los Angeles is the critical issue. Extending the subway to the West Los Angeles Veteran's Administration is long overdue ... The next mayor needs to be unambiguously committed to the extension of that subway and the other regional transportation projects. I would hope that every candidate endorses Measure J on the ballot this November, which would extend the half cent sales tax."


What’s Yaroslavksy’s legacy in LA? What does this mean for the mayoral race? And can the man who entered politics at age 26 really step away?


Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County Supervisor representing the Third District, which comprises much of the City of Los Angeles, including the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and Los Feliz, the Wilshire corridor, and West Los Angeles; the cities of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village and San Fernando; and unincorporated areas including Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains