Sheriff Sherman Block, who earlier this month acknowledged he was considering a challenge to Mayor Tom Bradley in 1989, announced Wednesday he has decided against it.
Despite a “steady stream” of encouragement and “generous offers” of political help since his ruminations became public, Block said, “I just could not convince myself to go for it. From my perspective, the negatives outweighed the positives.”
When Block told his wife of his decision before leaving for work on Wednesday, he said, “The only comment she made was, ‘Thank God.’ ” His family would have supported whatever decision he made, but was “very much against” his running, he said.
The sheriff’s decision leaves City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, for the time being, as the only major challenger to Bradley, who will be seeking a fifth term. Block, who joined the department in 1956 and became sheriff in 1982, said he intends to seek a third term in 1990.
Reacting to Block’s announcement, Bradley said: “The one unstated reason for his not running is he cannot beat Tom Bradley.”
Block said, however, that judging by calls from both friends and strangers, he was convinced that he could run a successful campaign. He considered commissioning a poll to test his chances, but decided against that as well, saying he did not want “external” factors to influence his decision.
Block cited his reluctance to leave the “professional environment” of the Sheriff’s Department for the “purely political” post of mayor. “Leaving this department would be like leaving my family,” he added. “This organization is like family.”
Another reason for his decision, he said, was that he envisions “little progress” in tackling the city’s “overwhelming” problems during the next 20 years--problems such as sewage and garbage disposal, traffic congestion and the homeless situation. Whoever runs the city, he said, will have to devote the agenda to repairing and restructuring the decaying systems.
“I’m not blaming any individual,” he said. “That is happening in virtually every city in the country.”
But Block did level criticism at Bradley and the City Council for not providing political support for the Los Angeles Police Department, and the council for “a growing parochialism.”
The sheriff said he may become active in the race as a supporter for another candidate. “I’ll wait to see who all the candidates may be. I can’t believe it’s only going to be a race between two candidates.”
Bradley said he invites anyone to “jump in.”
“To all those who are faint of heart and pessimistic about the city, I would expect them to choose not to run,” he said. “I am optimistic and of strong heart.”