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Getting to know the personal side of mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel

Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel gives her son Thomas a hug after a candidate forum at Leo Baeck Temple in the Sepulveda Pass on February 10, 2013.
Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel gives her son Thomas a hug after a candidate forum at Leo Baeck Temple in the Sepulveda Pass on February 10, 2013.
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Los Angeles Mayor race 2013Last weekend, Alex and A interviewed the two candidates for LA Mayor, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. We figured as good KPCC listeners, you'd already heard quite a bit about their positions on the issues, so we approached these conversations a little differently, and tried to find out more about the candidates personalities: who they are and what makes them tick.

We'll hear from Eric Garcetti tomorrow in this time slot, but today, we'll hear from Wendy Greuel. A caught up with her early Saturday morning, at one of her favorite hang-outs, Art's Deli in Studio City.

Interview Highlights:


On the worst part about running for mayor:
"I'd have to say the worst part has been the over 50 debates, although they're great and you go to the communities. I can give you the responses of my opponents to each of the questions because we've been together so much on that particular area. I think the other part of course is having to raise the money that you have to do. I think it's overshadowed in a good way by all of the great things that happen in a campaign, that you get to do and you get to focus in on making LA a great city."

On her upbringing in Los Angeles:
"I was born in Encino, I grew up in Granada Hills, I went to Knollwood Elementary School, Frost Jr. High and John F. Kennedy High School. A very idyllic life, very humble beginnings. My grandfather started a business 66 years ago in the San Fernando Valley. Frontier, and he called it Frontier because the San Fernando Valley was a new frontier. We worked seven days a week, my family did, because that's what you did to keep that business going. It' still exists, my brother and I own it, it's a place where I have a lot of special memories. I went to the local parks, I went to LAUSD schools, graduated from LAUSD. When I was a senior in high school at Kennedy, my vice principal nominated me for an award with Tom Bradley. That was the kernel of my beginning of getting involved in public service. I interned for the mayor when I was at UCLA and I graduated and got a job with the mayor, so I do know that that kind of mentorship and partnership that you have with your teachers and your vice principals help you get to the next level."

On her professional plan before getting into politics: 
"I never thought I'd run for office. I never thought that I would be an elected official when I was student body president at my high school. I just ran because I thought that I could make a difference at the school, thought I was going to go into my family's business, that was the plan. I was going to help run the building supply company. I had learned how to drive a truck and learned how to drive a forklift, I knew how to do the accounting and that was my pathway."

On deciding to run for office:
"I worked for Tom Bradley for 10 years, I worked for the Clinton Administration at HUD for 4.5 years, was here when the Northridge Earthquake happened and was responsible for overseeing all of our efforts in rebuilding this community and this neighborhood. But after I left HUD I went to Dreamworks Studios and thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I could still be involved in politics but I'm going to go in a different pathway. Four years later, joel Wax decided to retire, people called me, 'You have to run, you have to run,' I said 'I'm not sure, I have a great life.' I decided to run. My mother, who is passed away, but at the time said to me, 'I'll support you, but you'll never get married or have children if you run for office,' I said 'Mom, I'm just going to do what I think is right,' and of course lucky me a few weeks later I met my now-husband during that first campaign, and I have a beautiful 9-year-old."

On working with and learning from former Mayor Tom Bradley:
"He was such an incredible leader. He was very soft-spoken, he was a man of very few words, but he worked hard. He got it that the details matter. He got it that you have to manage the city first. That you have to understand what the priorities are in the city, but he was beloved whether you were in the San Fernando Valley or San Pedro, the West Side, the East Side, he cared about those who were less fortunate, and I learned from him that if you do the job you're elected to do you can go far."

On what makes her a good candidate for mayor of LA:
"I like to say that I'm the most qualified candidate who also happens to be a woman. Women are multitaskers, women are individuals who are focused in on getting the job done, not a lot of pomp & circumstance. I think if you look at Los Angeles and the fact is I'm only the second woman in the history of the city to be a citywide elected office holder. Of course would be the first woman mayor. Right now we only have one woman on the city council and potentially, we could have no women in elective office in Los Angeles. In the second largest cities in the country in the most progressive cities. That's shameful to me. We have to focus in and mentor women to run for office. Being a roll model for some of those young women who see that they can do anything."