Published by the Daily News
Written by Dakota Smith
Setting the tone for his City Hall tenure, Eric Garcetti said he will make job creation one of his top priorities in his first 100 days.
Garcetti, who takes the ceremonial oath of office tonight at a gala in downtown Los Angeles, said all departments will be directed to concentrate on job creation and efficiencies.
"I will focus all of City Hall on jobs and will make sure every department is aggressive about the role it plays," Garcetti wrote in an email to the Daily News as he was vacationing with his family in Belize last week.
While Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa outlined big visions in his 2005 inaugural speech, telling Angelenos: "Dream with me," Garcetti is entering office with narrower focus as he takes over a city with unemployment hovering at around 10 percent.
Since winning the election four weeks ago, Garcetti has been meeting with policy experts, business leaders, and residents to explore ways to boost the city's economy, he said. He has also been setting up his own office, hiring his council chief of staff Ana Guerrero to fill that same role in the mayor's office.
His management team will also be structured far differently than that of Villaraigosa's. While his predecessor had about a dozen deputy mayors -- top level staffers serving directly under him -- Garcetti will have fewer people in that position, aides said. But those deputies, aides added, will take a more aggressive role in overseeing job creation and quality of life issues in Los Angeles.
Garcetti hasn't announced many of his key staff hires, including who will oversee the Office of Economic Development.
Overall, Garcetti, 42, is expected to take a more nuts-and-bolts approach to governing, said Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.
"It is reasonable to expect that Mayor Garcetti is more much focused on the intricacies of public policy," said Schnur. "That's who he is."
Garcetti also said that he will require all of the city's general managers to reapply for their jobs, a process that's expected to take about two months.
"For too long, while mayors have come and gone, the city departments that work with businesses -- and too often stand in their way -- remain static," Garcetti said.
Additionally, starting Monday, Garcetti will hold office hours for the public, a practice he also undertook as a city councilman representing Hollywood for 12 years.
Longtime City Hall business groups, who nearly all backed rival Wendy Greuel in the mayor's race, are greeting the incoming mayor with tempered enthusiasm. Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, believes City Hall needs a robust economic department, similar to the one under Mayor Richard Riordan.
"Jobs, jobs, and more jobs," said Waldman, listing VICA's priorities for Garcetti. "The mayor should be the one making sure we bring jobs to Los Angeles. And he should make sure the jobs that are here don't leave."
Typically, mayors can create jobs by luring new companies to Los Angeles, offering tax breaks, and launching construction projects like the I-405 Freeway widening.
Along the campaign trail, Garcetti talked about creating a Silicon Beach neighborhood for tech jobs, and offering incentives to film companies. In last week's email interview, Garcetti also said adding parks can improve neighborhoods, for instance. In turn, that can bring in new businesses.
Additionally, he tied the city's economy to its growing transportation system. The mayor can appoint three board members to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Asked what type of qualities he would look for in board appointees, Garcetti wrote: "I want people who understand the economic impact of transportation -- both in the sense of the cost of congestion to our economy and how bus and rail stops can catalyze neighborhoods."
Still, Garcetti didn't lay out specifics in the email interview. Nor did he respond to a question concerning his priorities for the Planning Department, an important topic for most Angelenos.
But he has been quietly discussing his plans for the city's Department of Economic Development with civic leaders like Steve Soboroff, a politically active businessman and former advisor to Riordan.
Soboroff believes key to Garcetti's success on the job front is hiring the right team to oversee economic policy.
"You're dealing in a competitive business world," Soboroff said. "You have to have practitioners. You can't have wannabes or politicians."