Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo
Mayor Eric Garcetti. Photo

Could highly popular Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti avoid a runoff election in May by winning more than half the votes in Tuesday’s city election?

Garcetti is facing 10 challengers, but he holds a significant fundraising advantage and a recent poll shows he has a commanding lead in the race.

Garcetti had raised more than $3.3 million as of March 1, dwarfing his opponents. Mitchell Schwartz, a former State Department official who also worked as a campaign operative for former President Barack Obama, is the only other candidate to have raised a significant amount, with more than $691,000.

Garcetti argues that he accomplished much for city since winning his first term in 2013, by supporting a minimum wage hike, helping the economy by lowering the business tax, encouraging the entertainment industry through tax credits and helping pass the $1.2 billion measure in November to build housing for the homeless.

Schwartz and other critics have pointed out that crime has risen in the city for the last three years along with housing prices.

A recent poll conducted by Loyola Marymount University’s Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles found that Garcetti had the support of 50.1 percent of registered voters, compared to 7.9 percent for Schwartz and 38.5 percent who said they “don’t know” who they will vote for.

If Garcetti receives more than 50 percent of the vote, he would avoid a May runoff with the second-place finisher.

“The overwhelming support for Garcetti coupled with the expected low voter turnout and the incumbency advantage virtually guarantees a majority win, eliminating the need to a runoff election in May,” said Brianne Gilbert, the center’s associate director.

Some of Garcetti’s challengers are political unknowns who have raised no money and not mounted anything resembling a campaign. Two of his challengers, Eric Preven and David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg, have raised no money but are frequent “gadfly” speakers at City Council meetings who show up to lob criticism at the council but are often cut off from the microphone for veering off topic or violating public comment rules.

Saltsburg sued the city after he was kicked out of council meetings and won his federal free speech lawsuit case in 2014 — but was only awarded $1 by the jury.

Garcetti’s other challengers are YJ J Draiman, David Hernandez, Diane “Pinky” Harman, Frantz Pierre, Yuval Kremer, Dennis Richter and Paul Amori.

—City News Service

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