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Is Garcetti going? Los Angeles waits with uncertainty as city faces major crossroads

David Zahniser and Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

In recent days, however, Garcetti has not publicly ruled out the idea. Meanwhile, his administration is undergoing major changes.

One of the mayor’s longtime advisers, City Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn, recently announced plans to retire. Garcetti picked a high-level aide, Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Szabo, to replace Llewellyn. At the same time, some of Garcetti’s city commissioners have been wondering whether a departure by the mayor could lead to their ouster.

Outside of City Hall, some critics have suggested they would not be unhappy if the mayor moved on.

Matthew Umhofer, an attorney for the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, the plaintiff in the federal suit over homelessness, said his clients view Garcetti as less supportive of their goals than some of the council members.

“If there’s a vacuum on the executive side,” he said, “I think it’s highly possible that the legislative side steps in.”

If Garcetti is indeed tapped for a diplomatic post, he would be the first L.A. mayor in more than a century to resign partway into his term. The last one to do so was Charles Sebastian, a former police commissioner who stepped down in 1916 after a newspaper published his love letters to his mistress.


Garcetti was first elected mayor in 2013 after serving a dozen years on the City Council. The son of former District Attorney Gil Garcetti, he was re-elected in 2017 to serve an exceptionally long term — 51/2 years instead of the usual four — because of a change in election dates.

If he leaves ahead of schedule, the council would have power under the City Charter to appoint an interim replacement to serve out the remainder of his term. Until that decision is made, the council president would serve as acting mayor.

The charter also gives the council the ability to call a special election, rather than waiting until the mayor’s term has run its course. But those types of elections can be expensive unless they are consolidated with other contests, such as the upcoming recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Complicating matters further, any special election would likely be followed months later by the regularly scheduled city election, which is set for June 2022.


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