LA politics guy Mike Trujillo sweet talks street-hassle
"I'll go all sugar," Mike Trujillo tells the barista at Cafe Casbah in Silver Lake. The thirty-one-year-old Democratic specialist orders a chocolate chip cookie and a Coke. He's reviving himself from a five-hour poker session the night before.
"I don't know why some people have me figured out a certain way," Trujillo tells me when we sit down. "I'm a nice guy."
Trujillo has been interested in politics since fourth grade, when he told his mother to punch the ballot for Dukakis and not George H. W. Bush. He got his start in politics when he was thinking of doing a special project at Birmingham High School in NoHo. His school went for a political special study project and he ended up not merely contacting Richard Alarcon's then-California Senate office, but working for the office.
Along the way, Trujillo went to work for Antonio Villaraigosa when he ran against Nick Pacheco, and then again when he ran for Mayor successfully. He's also worked for Hillary Clinton's enormous 2008 effort that came up just short, Rob Reiner when the actor/producer backed an education initiative, and Janice Hahn, who he says has among the best political instincts on Council.
"I've been lucky," Trujillo says of his career to date. "I mean, Rob Reiner is one of the funniest people in America, and Hillary is one of the smartest for sure, and I've worked for both of them."
He enjoys reminiscing about the crazy nascent days of the MayorSam blog. He hadn't met Michael Higby before he started contributing himself, but he already knew Brian Hay.
"It was this shiny new thing then," he says of blogging's relationship to politics in 2004 and 2005. "Now it's a part of the mix but then nobody had any idea how it was going to end up." Trujillo knew that Times writers were scouring MayorSam comments for leads on stories, and used that as a tactic himself to point writers to stories he thought served his clients' interest.
Trujillo's grandfather ran one of the oldest Latino-owned businesses in Los Angeles, a gravel and construction company in Pacoima. "Back then, if your family was Latino, your business was in Pacoima. And they would barter," Trujillo tells me. "He might throw up a cinderblock wall and if the client couldn't pay cash, he would accept payment in, say, chickens."
When the topic turns to the politics of Los Angeles today, Trujillo also considers himself lucky. He helped the Valley Vote effort that caused the city fits in the early part of the decade, a position that doesn't jibe well with his current set. But he's obviously a good distance away from Ron Kaye, who was one of the leading secessionist proponents at the time.
"I don't think people know how much of an anarchist Ron is," Trujillo says.