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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

Behind the scenes, a number of candidates have surfaced for interim mayor, including Council President Nury Martinez, Councilman Paul Krekorian and former City Controller Wendy Greuel. Council members might hesitate to put someone in the interim post if they believe that person would use the role as a springboard for a mayoral campaign.

City Attorney Mike Feuer and Councilman Joe Buscaino have already entered the 2022 mayoral race, and at least four other council members — including Martinez — are weighing the idea.

On Friday, an aide said Martinez intends to govern, not engage in speculation about the future. “She is focused on making sure our communities have the leadership they deserve — whatever role she is in,” said spokeswoman Sophie Gilchrist.

A Krekorian spokesman said it’s “a little premature to speculate” about a political vacancy that does not yet exist.

“If the need were to arise, as always, I’m sure Councilmember Krekorian would be prepared to serve in whatever capacity best enables Los Angeles to emerge from the pandemic, turn around our economy, create opportunity for all, address homelessness and restore the core services the people of our city deserve,” spokesman Tom Waldman said in an email.

If Biden does select Garcetti for the ambassador post, the City Council would not need to find a replacement immediately. The U.S. Senate would first have to confirm Garcetti’s appointment, a process that could take weeks or months.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee would take up the nomination before sending it to the full Senate, where a simple majority vote would be needed for approval. However, a single senator can block a confirmation by putting a “hold” on the vote.

 

“If the person is reasonably competent or a career officer, they will generally go through,” said Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, who has held three ambassador posts.

The confirmation process may be held up if there’s an issue in a nominee’s background or qualifications that poses a problem.

For example, Garcetti could face questions by senators over sexual harassment allegations leveled against one of his former advisers. He could also receive inquiries about the ongoing federal corruption investigation into City Hall, which has resulted in the filing of bribery and racketeering charges against one of his former deputy mayors, Raymond Chan.

Prosecutors have alleged that Chan, while running the Department of Building and Safety, helped then-Councilman Jose Huizar find $600,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Huizar by a former aide. A downtown hotel developer ultimately provided the funds, the indictment said.

An attorney for Chan has repeatedly said his client is innocent and intends to make his case in court.

(Staff writers Noah Bierman, Eli Stokols and Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.)

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