By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | firstname.lastname@example.org |PUBLISHED: May 2, 2022 at 2:28 p.m. | UPDATED: May 2, 2022 at 2:29 p.m.
The city of Los Angeles, at the heart of the Southern California megalopolis, has enormous challenges and is in need of both smart and effective new leadership. The good news at the city attorney and city controller level, with incumbents leaving in both cases, is that there are excellent candidates on the June 7 primary ballot for both offices for L.A. voters to choose from.
In the city attorney race, two candidates stand out among the seven candidates, former United States attorney and Obama administration official Marina Torres and longtime local private attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto. Both lawyers come from immigrant families, both have deep roots in Los Angeles, have strong legal educations and stellar careers and both would bring a breath of fresh air to the job of being the city’s general counsel, giving legal advice and opinions on issues of municipal concern.
Of the two, we’re pleased to endorse Feldstein Soto for her overall experience and zeal for reform. “I want to be city attorney because the only thing that has improved here since I moved here in 1982 is that the brown haze is gone from the skies — everything else has gone downhill,” she told the editorial board. “As one of only three citywide elected officials, I would want to do something about that. … A lot of people are leaving because the quality of life is decreasing significantly, going to Utah, New Mexico, Tennessee. People are living in our parks and on our beaches; you can’t enjoy the weather because you can’t get through the tents to get to the beach and you can’t stroll downtown without stepping in human excrement.”
In her legal career with major L.A. and worldwide firms, Feldstein Soto has developed an impressive facility for real estate financing and is appalled at the absurd level of spending and the delays in building temporary housing for the homeless. The current city administration “touted the first village of tiny houses downtown, which cost $130,000 a piece and that’s an 8-by-8 prefab garden shed plunked down on public land with no indoor plumbing, no bathroom, no kitchen. … These sheds were purchased on a no-bid basis from a company in Washington state,” she says. She adds: “I am the only candidate in this race without past political debts or allegiances. I have no future political aspirations at the age of 63, and have zero interest in going to Washington, D.C. or Sacramento or running for mayor.”
Hydee Feldstein Soto would be an excellent city attorney.
The Los Angeles controller is the city’s chief accounting officer, a role very ably played by Ron Galperin, now running for state controller, for two terms. Among the seven candidates in the June primary, Stephanie Clements and Rob Wilcox stand out as the best for the city.
We’re pleased to endorse Stephanie Clements, a veteran of city government staff, for the job, for her deep knowledge of municipal finances and, as she told the editorial board, courage “to stand up to our status quo politicians and help lead this city in a better direction. … Most would agree that City Hall is corrupt and broken, but they don’t understand how to fix it. But I do because I’ve worked in L. A. city government for 25-plus years. I’m an all-around city expert, with a specialization in public finance, who intimately knows how the city works.”
We’re especially impressed by Clements’ stand on city union power: “Politicians have mismanaged the city’s finances for years,” she told us. “They don’t know how to live within their means because government unions continue to fund the campaigns of a majority of our L.A. politicians. In return, a contractual quid pro quo/conflict of interest relationship is established between government unions and our politicians, resulting in a pattern of approving overly generous labor agreements (wage, bonus, benefit increases) negotiated with little scrutiny behind closed doors.”
That’s the kind of attitude toward the financially disastrous current City Hall that Angelenos need to have in their city controller, and we think Stephanie Clements is voters’ best choice for reform.