On the 26th floor of City Hall, one lesson in the history of Los Angeles is abundantly clear. Accomplishments of the past are never greater than the problems of the present.
Hidden in the corridors of this granite aerie are portraits of nearly 50 former mayors. Most are strangers, whose legacies have been overshadowed by the never-ending demands of an ever-evolving city.
Eric Garcetti is about to join this gallery, and his premature departure — ambassadorship, India — means Angelenos must again look to the future and consider a new mayor whose agenda will be more urgent and complicated than ever before.
As Los Angeles emerges from the shadows of a global pandemic, its economy is a patchwork of inequity and privilege. Homeless camps have spilled from streets and underpasses onto beaches and city parks.
Families face the prospect of eviction against a backdrop of rising housing costs. Violent crime is on the rise, and racial bias and abuse have undermined confidence in the Police Department.
Garcetti leaves a city that is, by many accounts, still broken, and imagining his successor — whether interim or elected — may require looking beyond the past: beyond the coalition-building skills of Tom Bradley, the entrepreneurial savvy of Richard Riordan, the institutional memory of James Hahn, the zeal of Antonio Villaraigosa and Garcetti’s own steady hand.
The future holds unseen possibilities. A woman has yet to hold the office, and except for Bradley and…