Following the White House announcement on Friday that President Joe Biden has nominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as ambassador to India, many Angelenos are asking what this means for the city.
Garcetti said in a statement that he wants everyone to know that every day he is the people’s Mayor, he will continue to lead the city with enthusiasm, concentration, and drive as if it was his first day on the job.
He said that if confirmed, he will bring the same enthusiasm, dedication, and love for the city to his new position, forging relationships and connections that will benefit Los Angeles.
Despite accepting the nomination, the mayor will still require Senate approval, which could take weeks or months.
If he resigns as mayor, the City Charter enables City Council to select an interim mayor to succeed Garcetti until the conclusion of his term.
The council’s president, presently Nury Martinez, may also serve as mayor until the selection of a successor, complicating the forthcoming mayoral race, in which Martinez is reported to be seriously contemplating running.
Garcetti, who was originally elected in 2013 after serving on City Council for a decade, will finish his term in December 2022 since his tenure has been extended by a year and a half since Angelenos decided in 2018 to move municipal elections to even-numbered years.
The mayoral primary is scheduled for June 7, 2022, with the full election on November 8, 2022.
However, the City Charter provides the council the authority to hold a special election to choose who would serve until December 2022.
This would not alter the election timetable for 2022, but it would definitely complicate the race.
It is uncertain if City Council would take this step, which may be costly to run if not coupled with another election, such as the anticipated recall vote on Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Martinez isn’t the only council member who may be on the ballot.
Councilmember Joe Buscaino has already announced his candidacy, while councilmembers Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kevin de León are both said to be thinking about running for mayor.
De León formerly served as the state Senate’s president pro tempore, and Ridley-Thomas as an L.A. County supervisor.
According to experts, if he resigns, Garcetti would be the first sitting mayor to resign since 1916.
Garcetti would leave behind a city characterized by the coronavirus crisis and an out-of-control homeless problem that has only grown into almost every neighborhood during his term.
He contemplated running for President in 2020 and subsequently became a member of Biden’s inner circle, surfacing as a widely speculated candidate to join Biden’s Cabinet last year. But he dropped out of the race, claiming that the growing coronavirus crisis made it impossible for him to do so.
Garcetti said in a briefing that he continues to advise the administration on the people and policies that they need to help them fix and rise up stronger than ever before.
If verified, Garcetti would be sent to India, which has been swamped by an increase of coronavirus cases and fatalities.
The death toll in India is the third highest in the world, behind the United States and Brazil, and the actual figure is believed to be far higher.
Garcetti’s appointment to the India position would enable him to hone his foreign policy credentials ahead of a potential White House bid.
That is a notable omission from his résumé; the Ivy League graduate and Rhodes scholar have spent the last two decades in municipal administration, either as mayor or as a city councilor.
The two-term mayor would depart Los Angeles with a mixed record. He is recognized for maintaining a transportation expansion in a congested city, setting stronger seismic safety requirements for thousands of structures, and guiding the city through the fatal pandemic when it became a hot point for infections.
Cases have dropped precipitously in the city, and certain restrictions have been relaxed, mirroring the state’s trend.
But Garcetti was outmatched by a homelessness problem that became a national disgrace despite a huge increase in government expenditures to combat it.
Many roadways and sidewalks remain cratered and eroding, despite his early promise to make street and sidewalk repair a priority of his administration.
According to a lawsuit, a former senior employee assaulted one of the mayor’s police bodyguards while Garcetti either disregarded or laughed it off.
The mayor rejects the allegations. In an ongoing federal investigation at City Hall, one of his former deputy mayors was also arrested on corruption allegations. And, like in many big cities, violence in Los Angeles is on the rise.
By selecting Garcetti, Biden would be rewarding a loyalist who worked as one of his national campaign co-chairs, on the committee that screened his pool of vice-presidential candidates, and as one of many co-chairs for Biden’s inauguration committee.
Garcetti’s popularity has waned in recent years, and Black Lives Matter protestors beat drums outside his official home earlier this year, urging Biden not to appoint Garcetti to the Cabinet.