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LA Times endorses Tomas O'Grady in CD 4


Mulch, not mud.

Another potential game-changer, and this one is in CD 4. The Times has endorsed Tomas O'Grady in the race.

While O'Grady has pledged to cut his own salary in half as a Councilman and calls for broad fiscal restraint, the paper calls O'Grady's calls to fiscal discipline largely symbolic. That's OK--so at this point are Jerry Brown's. But the paper also gives Councilman Tom LaBonge the pointed rebuke he deserves: "Likable and hardworking, yes, but LaBonge is part of a larger failure, and thus can hardly be considered part of the solution to the present crisis." No, not hardly, not when you think putting in a light at Finley and Hillhurst validates the whole reason for a CRA, as Councilman LaBonge has tirelessly told audiences when called upon to defend the agency at campaign forums, always to the flapping applause of his omnipresent three scruffy plants in the audiences.

[What CD 4 voters really need to think about: neither of the two dailies in LA endorsed LaBonge, and the top weekly dissed him too. The Daily News endorsed Stephen Box and the LA Weekly, which fled the District years ago, gave Box a cover two weeks ago.]

The Times offers this on O'Grady:
O'Grady's background in business, devotion to environmental issues and hard work as an activist in L.A. Unified schools make him the most appealing alternative to LaBonge. The Times endorses O'Grady.
This dovetails with my experience as well--the street down from me, formerly barren Tracy Avenue, is lined with trees and shrubs thanks to the organizing efforts of Tomas O'Grady. And people all around Los Feliz and west Silver Lake tell the same tale. The candidate has been very busy in Los Feliz over the past few years, not necessarily working the City Hall people, but the community people, and I too imagine he might get a lot more done throughout the District as Councilman.

The paper doesn't mention Stephen Box's candidacy much, which is unfortunate, as it will likely take votes from both O'Grady and Box to set one of them into a runoff against the career Councilman. But we have heard some concerns about Box's nearly exclusive appeal to renters in the District, indicated by how few Box yard signs you see, and also regarding his manic cycle-centrism.

Yes Box knows how the City works. He would make a great Council Deputy, in fact. If he is too subversive for CD 4 may be an issue; in most elections, well over half the voters in this district are homeowners.

O'Grady's great challenge this week is not necessarily to unseat LaBonge, but to anchor himself as the top alternative. The odds are far higher now that this race could go to a runoff, something every incumbent fears. And now, that challenge goes for Box too: his top task is not to finish strong, but merely to finish in second place. O'Grady has accomplished top-alternative status easily in Los Feliz, and in Los Feliz above the flats, where the heaviest voter turnout comes, he may even be leading outright.

A political consultant tells me that a Times endorsement is a 5-8 percent bump, sometimes 10%. But this is a District where name recognition goes a long way on its fringes: Hancock Park, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake. LaBonge, civic figure forever, also has billboards up to reinforce his own name recognition, and Box maintains a visible hub in Hollywood proper.

Still, with the Times endorsement in O'Grady's pocket, the race now has all the essentials of a legitimate three-way, and that is a very good thing for democracy in the District.