Why I Am Voting for Wendy Greuel

(Note: To help Streetsblog readers decide how best to cast their vote in the election, we asked two regular writers not on staff to write their recommendations in the election. Today, Founding Board Member Emeritus and our 2011 Streetsie Writer of the Year Dana Gabbard writes about his decision to back Wendy Greuel. Tomorrow, current Board Member and 2009 Streetsie Writer of the Year Joel Epstein takes his turn writing about his support for Eric Garcetti. Update: Here is Joel’s piece on Garcetti.)

I am a fairly simple person. When I wrote a commentary in favor of the passage of the bullet train bonds I offered just two reasons why to vote for it. Now I can also add to its virtues its assistance in funding the Regional Connector and Union Station Run-through tracks (aka the Southern California Regional Interconnector Project). Plus all those pesky hidden fees the airlines sock you with has made a fast intra-state network of bullet trains suddenly a lot more appealing vision than it was even back in 2008 when the bonds passed.

OK, so what does a simple guy like me do when faced with the complicated question of who I should vote for in the runoff on May 21st between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, the top two finishers in the March 5 primary, to be Mayor of Los Angeles? Sam Lubell’s recent excellent critique of our civic culture in the city of Los Angeles and the need to reform/streamline city government plus the rather scathing management audit of the L.A. Dept. of Transportation by the Controller’s Office illustrate the magnitude of challenges the next Mayor faces regarding livability and transportation issues.

So while there isn’t a lot of substantive difference between the candidates (which accounts for why the campaign has devolved into a rather mean grudge match replete with mud-slinging and low blow accusations) style does matter when one has to make a choice among two fairly equal choices.

I choose Wendy Greuel. She isn’t flashy. OK, to be honest an excess of charisma isn’t a problem for her. But she is sober and willing to tackle the systemic problems that our city government faces. I respect her and believe she could grow in the job into being a great Mayor.

Why not vote for Eric Garcetti? I’ll concede he is flashy, engaging and appealing. But there is a dark side to Garcetti, one that when he doesn’t think we are paying attention peeks out. This is the empty suit, lack of vision aspect of Garcetti that I find deeply troubling as exemplified by his loathsome grandstanding before the Studio City Neighbnorhood Council in January 2012 where he declared the Wilshire bus lanes “a failure” because of the gaps in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and near Westwood.

And where was Garcetti when some of us fought against the gaps, especially in the Condo Canyon? AWOL AFAIK. Isn’t that the epitome of what Thomas Paine termed the summer soldier? Garcetti is now four-square for the bus lanes in the bright glare of the TV cameras but 17 months ago to pander to San Fernando Valley car-addicted homeowners he was stabbing the project in the back. :-(

Nay to Mr. Flash! Hooray for Ms. Substance and Integrity! I urge the readers of this commentary to join me and help make Wendy Greuel the next Mayor of Los Angeles. I am confident she’ll do a great job.