by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
June 1, 2001
The race for Hollywood's Los Angeles City Council seat has come down to two exceptional young men, former City Councilman Mike Woo and challenger Eric Garcetti, a prominent leader of Amnesty International and the son of former Los Angeles County District Atty. Gil Garcetti.
We endorse Mike Woo because we believe his experience is desperately needed on the City Council; in doing so, we heartily encourage Eric Garcetti to continue to seek public office, particularly in the State Legislature, and congratulate him on the exceptional tone and high qualifications he has brought to this race.
As Councilman for the 13th District from 1987 until he ran for Mayor of Los Angeles in 1993, Mike Woo brought a diligent, hard-working, highly disciplined intelligence to an office that had been a poor guardian of Hollywood's image and residents.
Many of Mr. Woo's projects ran into heavy opposition from opponents of urban renwewal, a tag team of no-growth and preservation activists who used immensely successful media tactics to berate him, often unfairly, for some unusually imaginative but usually beneficial approaches to city improvements. In turn, he sometimes ran a little too high off the ground in what seemed to be a mixture of intellectual reserve and personal aloofness.
At the end of his council career, he bravely stood alone in calling for the resignation of LAPD Chief Daryl Gates at a time when Gates' power was otherwise unquestioned by those who hoped to stay in local public office.
The unfortunate convergence of these paths led to his defeat by Richard Riordan in 1993 and to a period of obscurity from which he emerged just two or three years ago, again in public-interest positions requiring intellige nce, discipline and political compassion, qualities he possesses in some depth. Seeking an office he held eight years ago was a bold step that unsettled many of his former foes and allies who believed he should remain on the sidelines.
With the death of council president John Ferraro earlier this month, however, Woo's candidacy now presents itself as a clear opportunity for the Los Angeles City Council to move forward at a time when most of its members a re brand new, when (at least until June 5) two of its seats are vacant, leaving half a million people unrepresented, and when the council's able and widely-admired dean, Councilman Joel Wachs, is heading to a position in the New York art world after 30 years of exceptional service to L.A.
In a council thus practically bereft of experience, the return of Mike Woo will be a salutary breath of fresh air, reinvigorating what has become a highly polarized district and reorienting a council notable for drift and programmatic confusion. Eric Garcetti is a whirlwind of fresh ideas and idealistic enthusiasm, but we fear his energy would be largely wasted in mastering the byzantine byways of the Los Angeles City Council, especially a council composed mostly of freshmen.
In the State Legislature, he would be more quickly absorbed and brought up to speed, and we suspect he would rise to a leadership position as quickly as a predecessor, Antonio Villaraigosa, did. We are most enthusiastic about Eric's future.
For the present, though, we need Mike Woo's experience, intellectual capacity and moral leadership on the Los Angeles City Council. We warmly endorse him for that post in the June 5 election.