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City candidates: A closer look

March 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Los Angeles voters go to the polls Tuesday in the city's primary election. There's concern the turnout will be very low, despite the fact a number of key posts are on the line, including city controller, city attorney and mayor of Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa picked the day before the election to announce a new record for the number of Los Angeles police officers. Behind him was a class of recruits in its first day at the police academy. The mayor has promised 10,000 officers by the end of the year.

"This is the day when people start and so when they start, they are part of the force and that's why we are now at 9,895," said Mayor Villaraigosa.

The mayor insists the timing has nothing to do with Tuesday's election.

Walter Moore is one of the candidates for mayor, and is one of the best-funded. He questions the timing of Monday's announcement.

"If I'm mayor I'm going to make hiring police the number one priority, not have one neighborhood borrowing police officers from another," said mayoral candidate Walter Moore.

One of the toughest citywide races has been for city attorney. One of the candidates, Carmen Trutanich, was endorsed by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Sheriff Lee Baca, along with other law enforcement organizations.

L.A. City Councilman Jack Weiss also wants to be the city attorney. He's been endorsed by Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton and Mayor Villaraigosa. D.A. Cooley is harshly critical of Councilman Weiss.

"I think he's very arrogant -- a know-it-all, kind of elitist, not my kind of guy," said Cooley. "That does not mean I won't genuinely try and work with him and other city prosecutors."

Weiss is a former federal prosecutor who has been a close ally of Mayor Villaraigosa and his efforts to add police officers.

"While I've been chair of the city council's public safety committee, we've grown the size of the police to record highs and crime in Los Angeles today is at record lows," said Weiss.

The other citywide race is for city controller, between Councilwoman Wendy Greuel and DWP board member and businessman Nick Patsouras. They both promise to go after wasteful spending.

Greuel accuses her opponent of leading a bank failure.

"He's been misleading that he's a taxpayer advocate when in fact he has a bank that was run into the ground," said Greuel.

"If she can prove that the bank failed, I will withdraw," said Nick Patsouras.

As important as Tuesday's election is, there's a prediction of a record low turnout. It could be as low as 10 percent.


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