Female leadership could have changed LA

Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel mastered the art of political mannerisms in this year’s mayoral race: The perfect on-camera smile. The presidential wave. The charming ad-libs during speeches and interviews.

Christina Ellis | Daily Trojan

Christina Ellis | Daily Trojan


While Garcetti made history as the first Jewish mayor elected in Los Angeles, in a time when women make up such a paltry percentage of all political positions, a greater symbol of social justice would have been Greuel as mayor. In the end, Los Angeles should have elected its first female mayor — it would have been a beautiful sign of gender equality.

Though the two candidates wielded similarly impressive resumes of extensive government service and enviable academic endeavors, 42-year-old Garcetti nailed his win with an eight-point lead over Greuel. But the mayoral race barely energized the public to actually get out the vote — only 19 percent of eligible L.A. voters engaged in their civic duty this year.

Greuel might have left this race victorious if more voters recognized the significance of electing a female mayor in such an evenly matched race. But instead, less than a quarter of the eligible voting population decided our mayor would be yet another male.

Admittedly, Garcetti’s strategy, to play up his Latino heritage and mobilize very specific voter groups, led to his triumph. He also capitalized on Greuel’s weaknesses: He attacked her close alliances with the labor unions, questioned her candor in his advertisements and portrayed himself as the “independent” candidate — free from the stronghold of super PACs and corporations.

But unlike the presidential election, where a Republican and a Democrat with distinct visions for the nation fight before the American people, Garcetti and Greuel bickered over matters where they actually overlapped. Both candidates wanted to create more jobs. Both support benefits for same-sex partners. Ultimately, the election flatlined instead of picking up heat because there were few areas where they contrasted.

The public also saw how Garcetti and Greuel shared remarkable backgrounds: Garcetti worked as a councilman and Greuel as the city controller. They have each contributed to this city by adding programs. Garcetti introduced UNTAG to eradicate graffiti from neighborhoods, while Greuel made streets safer by adding more left-turn signals.

So if this is really the case — if Garcetti and Greuel are truly equal in skill and vision — we must question why Los Angeles failed to elect its first female mayor. We must question why this country still does not see many females in office even when they are clearly capable of fulfilling all given responsibilities. With Councilmember Jan Perry’s exit, there will be no female city councilmembers in the next term.

Certainly, Garcetti has the charisma and intelligence to run this city. But seeing Greuel in office would have been a lighthouse in an American landscape darkened by sexism and prejudice against women.

“I may not have been able to break through the glass ceiling last night, but you sure helped me put a crack in it and because of your work, the next woman candidate in my shoes will crash right through it,” Greuel said in her concession speech.

Unfortunately, the leadership of a woman might not occur if voters don’t see the importance of electing a woman. By having more women in strong leadership roles, children will not see only men in positions of power.

According to the Huffington Post, L.A. is the second-largest city in the country — a country that for some unfortunate reason ranks 79th in the world for political representation. Just imagine what Mayor Gruel could have done for the future of females in politics.

If the voters had recognized this significance and had been mobilized to cast their ballots, they would have made history for such an underrepresented gender.


Rini Sampath is a sophomore majoring in international relations global business.

8 replies
  1. Tyler
    Tyler says:

    It is flabbergasting how unapologetic some can be about completely disregarding the merits of candidates and then voting simply based on someone’s birth characteristics. And then worse, encouraging others to do the same!

    Just about the worst reason to make a political decision would be “it would have been a beautiful sign of gender equality.” Forgive us if we prefer to vote for the person we believe would be the best candidate, rather than the person who looks different than the last few mayors.

    Rini’s perspective is so superficial and focused on things other than the issues. Thank God most voters have a more intelligent perspective.

  2. John Q. Public
    John Q. Public says:

    “In the end, Los Angeles should have elected its first female mayor — it would have been a beautiful sign of gender equality.”

    Electing someone because of their sex is precisely the kind of sexism we should avoid in politics. Supporting Gruel strictly because she is a woman “all else being equal” is bad logic.

    Gruel assumed she had the “women’s vote” in the bag thanks to her own sex. She failed to account for Garcetti being able to sway women away from her by demonstrating himself to be a formidable candidate in his own right.

    Moreover, the two candidates fundamentally has some differences. If you look more into the election, you’ll see that Gruel’s heavy use of union funds divided her sharply from Garcetti in addition to policy distinctions.

  3. USC Alum
    USC Alum says:

    Unfortunately for you, the voters of L.A. looked deeper than just the candidates genders when casting their ballots. The times are changing and even the democrat base is getting tired of union thugs using fear, coercion and bundles of money to buy them elections. Wendy Gruel learned that the hard way and will be known as a union puppet for the rest of her life. Not sold on Garcetti, but losing union support, which he tried to court initially, was the best break of his life.

  4. CityEye
    CityEye says:

    This reporter’s logic doesn’t make sense and it insults females. If Kim Kardashian was running for Mayor the article is somewhat stating that we should vote for her just because she’s a female!!! If Los Angeles had strong, QUALIFIED women to run for Office then they would be voted in. The fact that Garcetti was endorsed by the National Organization Women says a lot.

  5. Suni Ellis
    Suni Ellis says:

    Identity politics should win over content of character. It’s our duty to vote for whoever looks most like us because it’s symbolic, or something.

  6. VEV
    VEV says:

    Los Angeles is ready to elect a womyn mayor but not this womyn. Gruel lacked chrisma and ran an awful campaign, ie., she spent all her money early on negative attack ads (she was the first candidate to go negative). She also could not come back from the DWP salaries she was allowing to take place under her leadership and her partnership with DWP and labor unions. She had everything right – money, endorsements, union support but she couldn’t get traction – not because of her gender but because she wasn’t a formidable candidate. Gender should not be the only deciding factor when voting. She is no Hillary and it showed.

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