Real estate agent and former Metro board member Mel Wilson announced his candidacy Thursday for mayor of Los Angeles.
“I’m a servant leader, I’m willing to put my hand in there and get them dirty to get the job done,” Wilson says in a campaign video. “The L.A. I grew up with doesn’t exist anymore. I can change that. I believe I can bring people together — people from the private sector, the public sector, the nonprofit and the faith communities — all working together to make a better L.A.”
Wilson — who would be the second Black mayor of Los Angeles, after Mayor Tom Bradley — launched his campaign at a Pacoima shopping center anchored by a Food 4 Less store to highlight his work getting the Van Nuys Boulevard center built 35 years ago and address the area’s need for grocery stores, calling the area a former “food desert.”
Similar to the priorities of other Los Angeles elected officials and mayoral candidates, Wilson said at his campaign launch that his priorities are to move unhoused residents into housing, help small businesses as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grow “smart transit and affordable housing corridors.” According to his website, Wilson also wants to eliminate the city’s gross tax on businesses.
The Cal State Northridge graduate moved to the San Fernando Valley from Alabama when he was 10 years old and years later was active in a movement to have the Valley become independent of the city Los Angeles. The secession bid went before voters in the Nov. 5, 2002, election, and failed.
Along with serving on the Los Angeles County Transportation Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors from 1993-97 and 2010-13 — he was appointed by former Los Angeles mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Richard Riordan — Wilson spent four years on the Los Angeles Fire Commission. He also served on the Business Tax Advisory Commission and the Small Business Advisory Commission, as well as president of the United Chamber of Commerce of San Fernando Valley.
Wilson joins several already announced candidates in the Nov. 8, 2022, mayoral election. The two most prominent contenders thus far are Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who cannot seek reelection due to term limits, will vacate the office before the end of the year if confirmed by the U.S. Senate for an ambassadorship to India. He was nominated by President Joe Biden. The confirmation process could take several weeks.
The city charter assigns the City Council president, currently Nury Martinez, to serve as acting mayor when the mayor is out of the state. If Garcetti’s ambassador appointment is confirmed, Martinez would become acting mayor until an interim mayor is appointed by the council or a special election is held.