Ron Galperin has served the city of Los Angeles well in his role as Los Angeles city controller. He has authored critical and informative reports on how the city spends money and handles problems. His commitment to transparency and efforts to shine a light on what City Hall does have been commendable.
But he’s now termed out of office and Angelenos have two very different candidates to choose from to succeed Galperin. The top vote-getter in the primary was political outsider Kenneth Mejia, followed by longtime Los Angeles politician and current Councilman Paul Koretz.
Both candidates, on paper and in interviews with our editorial board, have their strengths and weaknesses. But in this race, there is only one responsible choice: Paul Koretz.
On first glance, there’s a lot to like about Mejia. He’s never been elected to political office. This could suggest Mejia has not been captured by political interests and therefore could be expected to bring a fresh perspective to city government. He also speaks clearly about his interest in making city spending more transparent and accessible to the general public.
However, without much of a record to draw from, Angelenos will have to take his word for what he really stands for and what he intends to do once in office.
And on that front, we don’t have much confidence in him. Over the years, Mejia has publicly argued that police exist to uphold “white supremacy,” denied Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people and denounced Joe Biden as a racist and a rapist.
We asked him about those views and he evidently preferred not to clarify or dismiss any of those previously expressed views of his, eventually devolving into repeatedly saying, “I’m focused.”
Is that the sort of person who should run the city controller’s office? We don’t think so.
Paul Koretz, by contrast, is a known quantity. A self-described “labor Democrat,” Koretz is running as the experienced, tested choice in this race. He served as a West Hollywood councilman from 1988 to 2000, a state assemblyman from 2000 to 2006 and has been a member of the Los Angeles City Council since 2009.
Like Mejia, he points to the need to audit the police budget and the city’s spending on homeowners to ensure money is being effectively spent and to find opportunities for optimizing existing resources. But unlike Mejia, he actually has a track record of getting things done, within the bounds of normalcy.
Koretz also has the support of Controller Galperin, an endorsement that should carry a lot of weight.
“Although done quietly and without much fanfare, Paul has put forward many efficiencies which have saved the city and taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Galperin in a statement.
Galperin calls Koretz the choice for “responsible and effective leadership.”
Former city Controller Laura Chick, also a proven truth teller, denounced Mejia as “erratic” and “unfit for public office.”
Given the two candidates, it’s a no-brainer: Paul Koretz for city controller.