Op-Ed: Racial divides in Los Angeles politics are wrong morally and pragmatically
I believe I have a fairly good grasp of L.A. politics from spending most of my time there over the last 15 years. And in that period, I have only witnessed a few races where race has come into play. A few. And the most significant are all in the first term of the governor, the first term of the secretary of state and the first terms of the assembly members. But the racial divide was far more pronounced during the second term of former mayor Richard Riordan. Mayor Riordan was a Republican and an African-American elected to a full term. In the 1980’s, the African-American community in the city was reeling under the effects of the Rodney King beating that would reverberate throughout the nation for decades. But the next step to a full black population in the city was taken by Richard Riordan, a former congressman and former pastor, who ran for governor and who won office by an unusually wide margin. In 1988 the African-American mayoral candidate for the city of Los Angeles was David Dinkins. He ran against Mayor Riordan for the mayor’s seat and won. In 1992, it would be L.A. city council president Eric Garcetti who would run against Riordan and win. In 1994, Riordan would lose to Garcetti and lose to his successor, Antonio Villaraigosa. This is a man who was not afraid to challenge the mayor’s position on race. In fact, he was successful in taking a city council race. As the city council president, he was responsible for passing the ordinance that would have allowed the creation of the city’s affirmative action programs. That ordinance would have required affirmative action in the city’s hiring policies. The ordinance would have also given equal use to all applicants, but would have required the approval of the city council to approve all contracts. The ordinance would have been a major victory for minority and women in Los Angeles.
The Riordan loss to Garcetti could not have happened in any other area of