Sunday, February 8, 2009

LA Times Mentions Zuma Dogg in Article About Mayoral Candidate Debate

L.A. mayor launches campaign on the same day that his opponents, mostly unknown, participate in a candidates' forum across town.
By Phil Willon and Martha Groves
February 8, 2009
An Eastside street corner was alive with mariachis, folklórico dancers and a pumped-up Antonio Villaraigosa on Saturday afternoon as the Los Angeles mayor kicked off his reelection campaign -- and skipped an invitation to face off with a group of his mostly unknown challengers across town.

As hundreds of supporters cheered Villaraigosa with "Sí se puede!" -- yes we can -- the candidates running against him pelted the mayor with allegations of corruption and tawdry ties to the city's powerful labor unions, winning sporadic applause from 80 people at Holman United Methodist Church in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

The dueling events typified a mayoral race that has been largely nonexistent, without the campaign ad wars and raucous debates of past elections, and with the first-term mayor feeling no need to debate or even acknowledge the underfunded, long-shot candidates running against him.

"I have a great deal of respect for anybody who's willing to put it on the line and run for office, and I certainly respect that fact that these candidates are doing that," Villaraigosa said after the rally. "But I'm going to talk to voters, I'm going to talk to the people about our record and, importantly, what we intend to do in the next four years."

Villaraigosa spent months campaigning hard during his first runs for mayor, two bitterly fought contests against the likes of former Mayor James K. Hahn, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg and former Councilman Joel Wachs. Villaraigosa lost to Hahn in 2001, then beat him in 2005.

This time around, though, he didn't even open his campaign office until Saturday, with the March 3 primary election less than four weeks away.

Villaraigosa's most notable challenger is business attorney and real estate broker Walter Moore, who has never held an elected office and placed fifth in the 2005 mayor's race. Villaraigosa had raised $2.7 million in campaign funds by mid-January. His challengers: $215,343, almost all of it by Moore.

Seven of the nine candidates trying to unseat the first-term mayor attended Saturday's candidates' forum sponsored by the National Assn. for Equal Justice in America, among them a socialist, a meat packer and the blogging City Hall gadfly David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg.

Saltsburg spoke out against "fraud, waste and abuse."

"The city is under attack from corrupt politicians," he said. "I don't like the way the city is being run."

The candidates didn't agree on much, but they railed against Measure B, the Villaraigosa-backed $3-billion solar energy proposal on the March 3 city ballot. Candidate David Hernandez said the measure would give the mayor and City Council direct influence over Department of Water and Power rates. Others said it would give a monopoly to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the union that represents DWP employees.