As noted on the editorial page Sunday, the coming city election is a big deal, and The Times' editorial board is in the process of working through the issues and speaking with the candidates to be able to make recommendations for mayor, the 16 other city, school and college offices and the two ballot measures that voters will be facing on or before election day March 5. There is also a separate question, on a separate mail-only ballot for property owners, and we’re digging into that one too. City election season continues at least through the May 21 runoff, and possibly even to July 23, the date of a special runoff (if necessary) to fill the seat being vacated by Councilman Tony Cardenas to take his seat in Congress.
The editorial board has invited all 77 candidates who qualified for the ballot to be interviewed for an endorsement, but that’s only a part of the process. We do our best to keep up with citywide and district issues on a regular basis anyway, and we ramp up our efforts during election season -- and isn’t it almost always election season? -- to speak with residents, businesses, activists and others who have a direct stake in the city and are therefore affected by the choices made by City Hall.
The process includes hearing the candidates speak to community groups and making their cases at candidate forums. And as the organizers of those forums seek panelists and moderators among experts in city government and politics, it is inevitable that some of them come to The Times for expertise. Times columnist and editor-at-large Jim Newton was a panelist at the Dec. 13 mayoral candidates forum on public safety presented by the Advancement Project. Looking ahead, Newton will moderate a Times/Town Hall candidate debate between the two finalists just after the March 5 nominating election.
Newton is also a member of The Times' editorial board, but he is recusing himself from the board’s mayoral endorsement process because he believes that it could be uncomfortable for him to moderate a debate between candidates if he had played a role in endorsing one of them. The endorsements, of course, are the work of the whole board, not a single member, but his feeling is that it might color the debate to have one candidate possibly feel favored by the moderator. We'll miss having him at the table to help grill candidates, deliberate and make a recommendation in the mayor’s race, but he will continue to write about the race in his column, and we’ll keep reading, so we won’t be completely without his guidance. Meanwhile, Newton will be a full participant in our discussions and decision-making for the other city and school offices.
We plan to make endorsements for mayor, city attorney, city controller, eight City Council seats, three Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education seats and three Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees seats, plus a proposed city sales tax increase and a measure dealing with the transfer of some city public safety personnel between departments. We’ll also endorse on the county’s vote-by-mail parcel tax measure.
You can find the certified list of candidates here.