Political newcomer Kenneth Mejia projected to win LA city controller's race over Koretz

City News Service
Thursday, November 10, 2022
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LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Kenneth Mejia, a 31-year-old accountant, was maintaining a healthy lead Wednesday over three-term City Councilman Paul Koretz in the race for Los Angeles City Controller, according to partial results released by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

In fact, Mejia, a newcomer to city politics, declared victory on Twitter shortly after initial results were released Tuesday night.

"We did it!" Mejia tweeted.

Back in the June primary, Mejia picked up 43% of the vote compared to 24% for Koretz.

The runoff race was pitting Mejia, an activist who seeks to change the status quo, against Koretz, who questioned Mejia's proposals and touted his own experience and connections at City Hall.

The city controller serves as Los Angeles' chief accounting officer, overseeing audits, accounting operations and financial reporting - including submitting reports on the effectiveness of city departments.

According to his campaign website, Mejia would provide a detailed accounting of spending of the city's homelessness budget, audit the cost of sweeps of homeless encampments and create databases of shelter availability and all housing units in the city.

Political newcomer Kenneth Mejia (right) defeated City Councilman Paul Koretz (left, 2019 AP file image) in the Los Angeles city controller's race on Nov. 8, 2022.

Koretz's website notes his current capacity as chair of the council's Personnel, Audits and Animal Welfare Committee, where he oversees the controller's financial and program audits.

Mejia has criticized Koretz for taking too long to address underfunding and staffing shortages affecting animal shelters in Los Angeles.

Koretz introduced several motions requesting funding and adjustments to the Los Angeles Animal Services department a few weeks ago after a Los Angeles Times article in July widely exposed the lingering problems.

"After 10+ years of failing to address the animal shelter crisis, Koretz is using his last few weeks as committee chair to ham-handedly try to alleviate the crisis,'' Mejia said on Twitter.

Koretz defended his role during a news briefing at City Hall earlier this month, calling it a "false narrative" that he could "make all the decisions to fix every perceived problem." He said he has limited oversight over the department.

"I kept hearing and reading that I'm responsible for every complaint anybody has with Animal Services," Koretz said. "Some of those allegations are motivated by genuine concern about genuine problems. Others, I suspect, are politically motivated."

In interviews, Koretz has attempted to paint Mejia as a radical, far from the mainstream, while Mejia has been critical of the councilman being part of the status quo.