How did I end up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen? : LA Mayors Race part 2

 Does this campaign make my butt look big? No, because when you canvas you walk! More about one of my latest part-time “jobs”.

That's my kind of mayor!

So, there are several reasons why I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen ( see blog post from a few days ago…) One is there is a grounded quality to him and a clear integrity.  When Campanile announced it was closing Eric wrote to me and Mark .  It was a personal note and I don’t want to share it, but to say it was appreciated.

Another reason…Several weeks ago I spoke to Eric at a another gathering of supporters and or would be supporters.  This was a bunch of people who are in charter schools, like we are. I think it’s the 7th or 8th time I’ve heard him speak,  yet I still enjoy hearing him speak.  I feel that he can lead LA into the next phase with dynamism, intelligence, and imagination.

He and his wife have adopted a baby girl and after speaking to the crowd at this convocation he was rushing out to do the “night duty”, that’s another reason.

Amy Wakeland in my dining room addressing volunteers about how to canvas

Another reason I love the guy is his choice of spouse.  No small aside is his wife Amy Wakeland.  She is a strong, confident, whip smart woman.  They met when they were both Rhodes Scholars .  However, she is also down to earth and will envelope friends in a warm hug.  No job is too small for her, no detail is missed.  One day my sister and I were going out to canvas for Eric and she told us if a voter had more questions get their number and she will call them.  We thought for a second she was kidding.  She was not, and she does.

The other week I hosted a canvassing party at our house.  The carrot was that Mark Peel would be making his famous grilled cheese sandwiches for volunteers.  It’s hard to get people to go knock on strangers doors and ask them to vote for your guy, but the food did it.  We had a good crowd and there was Amy leading the troops with her daughter crawling nearby. Classic strong working mom. She separated the tiny, swallowable toys out of the toy basket I had presented, changes a diaper and then told 30 people how to hit the bricks to get her husband elected with aplomb.  Fired up, I canvassed while my sister Cecily watched my kids.

Now, it’s not all work supporting a candidate.  The other week my friend and I went to a concert Moby gave to raise money for Eric’s campaign.  Jimmy Kimmel hosted. Will Ferrel made a funny video.    Last week I went to a Chefs for Garcetti event.  This time, my husband wasn’t one of them, but lots of other good restaurants participated with tasty dishes, Little Fork, Black Market and wine from Silver Lake Wine. I went stag, but hailed Gil Garcetti down to take a picture with me at their red carpet meets photo booth set up.  Gil is Eric’s father and former District Attorney of LA ( the ’90′s, OJ, yeah him).  Sweet guy, now he is an art photographer.  He has been making cold calls to voters on his sons behalf.  

“Aren’t people surprised that you are calling them?” I asked.

“Sometimes they think it’s a robo call.  One woman asked me to prove it.” He chuckled.  I didn’t ask how, but wondered what he would say to prove he is really Gil Garcetti.  Tell the lady where Eric has a birth mark?

Since I’ve been pounding the pavement for Garcetti for Mayor  I get asked “how can you do this with kids?” Like everything else when you are a parent the answer is two-fold 1) selectively, can’t go to every event and 2) it takes a village.

Direct voter contact is proven to be effective in getting out the vote.  A couple of times Amy invited me and some other mom supporters, to come to her house. She had a sitter there for her daughter so they would watch my kids as well.  Vivien and Rex had a great time hanging out.  I was touched by being so easily welcomed into their home, even if  I was there to help.

One day, a few other supporters were sitting in the front room or kitchen.  I sat at the counter in the kitchen so I could charge my phone while I called potential voters.  Eric was in between events and he was working around us. There is little difference between the “on” side to Eric and the at home eating left overs out of his fridge. “Do you want some he asked?” as I sat at his kitchen counter dialing voters.  A rare time I didn’t take food that was proffered, but I had gassed up before hand.  Whether I speak to him casually as a friend or hear him address a crowd he has a light that attracts people like the proverbial moth.

I heard Eric making his own calls and there was no cynicism as he moved from donor support, or reaching out to a community leader.  A few times I was stymied by an inquiry on the phone.  Sometimes you reach thoughtful people who want  deeper answers to the questions than I can provide.

“Well, Joyce, if you care about the environment you should know Eric was endorsed by the Sierra Club.”  But, she had more detailed question and “did I mention how nice he was to my mother?”  Didn’t seem like it would cut it, though I thought it should.    I put my hand over the phone,

“Eric, can you talk to Joyce, she is an environmentalist.”  He took the phone from me and rattled off a bunch of things he has done.   Nation’s widest-reaching green building ordinance, the nation’s largest local clean water initiative, and legislation leading to the nation’s largest solar rooftop program, etc.   He spent some time with her.  “Can I count on you for support?” he said finally.  “Thank you Joyce.”

When he hung up I said, “you are the closer!”  I said, wait, we gotta take a picture of this.  So we recreated the calling.  THAT is how I ended up in Eric Garcetti’s kitchen. 

 When we left he gave Rex and Vivien campaign buttons.

Rex was making a fierce face for canvassing, Viv takes a lighter approach

Sarah of MomsLA asked if I would interview him for a video for their site.  We got a few minutes as he rushed between engagements.  The street sound is not ideal, but here is some of it.  I’m going to try a pass at my own edit later, but Sarah did well to get this together.

Rex told me today that “Eric Garcetti is going to win.”  It was even cuter because we weren’t even talking about the election.  I was pouring chocolate milk.

I really hope Eric Garcetti wins the primary and the run off in May.  I think it would be great for Los Angeles. It’s been great to be part of the campaign and to share with my children what it is like to be involved in local politics like I did when I was growing up.  Well, except for hating some of your neighbors who didn’t support your dad, they can miss that part.

Los Angeles Vote on March 5th Tuesday.  Seriously

 

 

 

 

 

 

LA Mayor Race

On President’s day I was sitting in LA City Councilman’s Eric Garcetti’s house making cold calls to voters while my children played upstairs in his bedroom with his daughter…how did I get here?  This is my story… 

“Since when do people care about the LA Mayor’s race?” a friend queried the other night at dinner.  It’s kind of true.  It seem like a bigger deal this year, but I can’t tell, because it’s a bigger deal to me personally.   

Being politically minded since I was in pre school and campaigning for my dad I always pay attention.

my dad running for re election in Culver City. I'm the one with the peace sign

However, this year I’m much more involved because we are friends with one of the candidates, Eric Garcetti.

Now, for non Angelenos, bear with me. This is still the life of a mom trying to keep her hand in the world and teach her kids at the same time. Eric is a city council member of the 13th district (Silver Lake,Hollywood), he was city council president for years.   In a race with two women in it Garcetti got the endorsement of the National Organization for Women.  A couple of highlights in that arena:

- More than 60 percent of his commission appointees have been women, and many of top posts in his staff are held by women.

Eric tripled the number of parks in his district.   He has been a big supporter of charter schools. He got aftercare in all of the public schools in his districts. His district had job growth even during the recession.

Now, those are the beats on a good brochure and things that line up with my politics.  But, the personal is what puts this over the top.  I wrote a few years ago about being at a dinner party where I met Councilman Garcetti and his mom Sukey Garcetti.  My husband already knew them since Eric’s sister had worked for him and because at the helm of one of top restuarants in LA for over 20 years my husband knows everyone.

I was entranced as I spoke to mother and son.  They are warm, down to earth, smile on their face.  Over the course of dinner I learned that Eric is an accomplished jazz pianist, Rhodes scholar, Navel Reserve and foster parent.  I asked Sukey, “How did you raise a child like this?” wanting to duplicate her results.

“Hold them close and then let them go.” She smiled.  I knew there had to be more to it than that.  I kept in touch with Sukey for dinner.   Sukey’s husband Gil is a former District Attorney of LA .  Then we heard Eric was going to run for Mayor.

first of many events

Mark agreed to do the food for an event.  This was back in ’11.  Eric was efusisive in his appreciation for Mark’s contribution and when Eric spoke to the party about why he was running for Mayor I was moved.  He is a true Angeleno, not one of these sad sack actors who has come to rape the land and complain about the pizza.  He is 4th generation and he is a mix like LA itself, Jewish, Mexican with an Italian last name who grew up in the Valley.

Little Eric with grandfather and sister

Last March when The Tar Pit closed I reached out to Eric’s office to see if he had  ideas of where we could relocate in his district.  He met us right away with an aid who helped with business development.  For other business reasons we didn’t act on this fact finding mission, but we appreciated his direct approach to helping a small business maintain viability.

As his campaign slowly ramped up I kept in touch with one of his associates so I could figure out how best to help.  I heard him talk many times at small meet and greets at people’s homes.  He has Clinton like charisma with Zen calm.  He deftly handles all questions with charm and a vigourious understanding of the issues.  One can see how he is a former college instructer as he lays out an issue, it’s problems and solutions.   I always learn when I hear him speak.

I threw a “Grilled Cheese For Garcetti” luncheon for Eric at Campanile last summer  ( oh, remember when we still had a restaurant?) to introduce him to LA mom bloggers.  Sukey attended as well so mom and son could work their charm offensive.  Some of my favorite mom bloggers were there like Donna Schwartz Mills of SoCal mom,  Jessica Gottlieb, MomsLA, Yvonne and Sarah ( their video with him here) , Heather Spohr, Kim Tracy PrinceSarah Maizes

Sarah Maizes, Jessica Gottlieb, Yvonne Condes, Sarah Auerswald

Sarah, you may remember her for her hilarious star turn in one of my “how to be a mom ” series with Cafe Mom.  She played the annoying parent.

"let's vote for Eric Garcetti for mayor"

My sister Carole, of LaGirlNow was there as well and immediately signed up to do an event for Eric.  She packed her lovely home in November for a big cocktail party where many people got to hear Eric talk about his vision for LA. Carole gave him a great introduction where she said the Brogdon girls hadn’t been active in a LOCAL campaign since one of our dad’s, but Eric had inspired us to get back involved.    He took many questions that night and one was from a man who was a bit grouchy.  (My sister wanted to leap across her living room and knock the plate of middle eastern food out of his hand that she had provided for being so cranky at her gathering.)  Eric handled it smoothly and with answered his concerns in detail ( it was about the business tax). He let the guy know he was hearing him.  That man now has a “Garcetti for Mayor” sign on his lawn. It’s one of the many times I’ve seen the councilmen with a “water off a ducks” back ease about whatever comes his way.  He is never thrown for a loop and is up on the issues.

Okay, so that takes you up to the end of 2012… More on this story of my local politics renaissance tomorrow.