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.
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.
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.
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 Prince, Sarah Maizes
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.
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.