Yaroslavsky Campaign to Charge Bradley Policies Have Gone Stale
City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky has publicly revealed for the first time the message he will advance and the core of supporters he will call on in his campaign for mayor of Los Angeles, an election that could be the city’s most divisive since Tom Bradley was elected in 1973.
The basic campaign message--that Bradley has grown stale and his administration sluggish in dealing with crime, traffic congestion, pollution and other problems--was unveiled in a speech Thursday to more than 800 people at a Century City fund-raising dinner.
Political aides also released some names of people who have agreed to play key roles in the Yaroslavsky campaign. The list includes several former Bradley supporters and major figures in the entertainment industry, led by Barry Diller, chairman of 20th Century-Fox and Walter Mirisch, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Other supporters include former state Atty. Gen. Evelle J. Younger, former state Controller Ken Cory, businessman Sanford C. Sigoloff, attorney Ed Sanders and Willard Z. Carr, former president of the Greater Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
Yaroslavsky aides declined to discuss the composition of his 275-member campaign steering committee, but the list draws heavily from the Jewish community on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley and includes many former Bradley supporters.
Although Yaroslavsky has taken Jewish support from Bradley, the list includes only a handful of blacks, Latinos or Asians--and the most prominent black, Republican businessman Celes King III, is a longtime Bradley adversary.
Significantly, the list also includes about the same number of City Hall lobbyists and attorneys as it does homeowner activists, a faction once thought to be solidly in Yaroslavsky’s corner. In the last year, Yaroslavsky has come in for criticism of his support for major developments unpopular with some activists.
Yaroslavsky is surrounded by veterans of early Bradley campaigns.
“I still have a great deal of respect and affection for Tom Bradley,” said attorney Sanders, a longtime supporter of both Bradley and Yaroslavsky. “I just told the mayor that now is the time for Zev.”
Another convert is Sigoloff, chairman of the Wickes Cos., who helped organize business leaders for Bradley’s 1982 race for governor and was quoted praising the mayor several times in a 1986 biography of Bradley. Sigoloff declined, through a Wickes spokeswoman, to discuss his reasons for backing Yaroslavsky.
Marc Nathanson, chairman of Falcon Communications, is another Bradley supporter who has switched over to Yaroslavsky. He and his wife Jane recently hosted a dinner party at their home that netted Yaroslavsky about $25,000, and he said, “I think we can raise a substantial amount of money for Zev.”
“I just think it’s time for a change,” Nathanson said. “I think the early vitality has gone. Things are deteriorating in the city.”
State Controller Gray Davis, a former fund raiser for Bradley, has yet to take a public position on the race, but worked closely with Yaroslavsky on the campaign to stop Occidental Petroleum from drilling in Pacific Palisades.
The list of early supporters does show that Yaroslavsky appears to be tapping into enough sources of money to overcome the limiting effects of city and state campaign reform laws, which limit contributions to $1,000 from individuals and corporations.
Entertainment industry figures have proven helpful to Bradley and other candidates in the past, and Yaroslavsky’s roster of supporters includes Irving Azoff of MCA, attorney Ken Ziffren (whose father Paul Ziffren is a longtime Bradley supporter) and publicist Ron Rogers. Don Henley of the Eagles music group is also supporting Yaroslavsky.
Diller, the chief executive at 20th Century-Fox, told The Times that the Yaroslavsky campaign represents his first foray into city politics. “I’m certainly going to support Yaroslavsky,” Diller said. “I think he has a real future.”
‘Time for a New Mayor’
Yaroslavsky, however, has not made any significant intrusion into the downtown business and legal community, where Bradley has traditionally been strong. The major exceptions are Younger and Carr, who is a partner with the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
“I think he has been a good mayor,” Carr said of Bradley. But, he added, “one of my theories of politics is that nobody should stay in office too long. I think it’s time for a new mayor.”
Officially, Yaroslavsky has neither openly declared his intentions to run for mayor nor filed papers with the city clerk. But most at his Century City fund-raising dinner came with the presumption that he will take on Bradley.
Actor Ted Danson worked the mayoral angle into his introduction of Yaroslavsky, saying that Councilman Marvin Braude should not be chagrined to be outside the limelight. “Marvin, you deserve a lot of credit too but you’re not running for mayor.” A telegram from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) read to the crowd also made reference to the mayor’s race.
Yaroslavsky also left little doubt in his speech. He acknowledged his unusual entry into politics, being elected to the City Council in 1975 at age 26, barely out of graduate school at UCLA. “I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve very much,” he said, then added “and I’m not finished serving yet.”
The April 11 election will be a referendum on the city’s future, Yaroslavsky said. “Are you safer in your neighborhood today than you were five years ago? Are the streets and highways you drive on less congested . . . is the air you breathe and is the water off our coast safer to swim in?” he said.
Although the speech revealed few details of the new leadership Yaroslavsky pledged to offer as mayor, he said he would continue to add officers to the Los Angeles Police Department, an issue on which he and Bradley have clashed. Yaroslavsky also called for forcing trucks off freeways during rush hour and lowering bus fares to promote transit riding.
Bradley advisers are known to regard Yaroslavsky as vulnerable on nearly all of the issues mentioned in his speech, and privately said they were not unhappy with the strategy signaled in the speech.
Bradley, anticipating that this would be his toughest reelection campaign yet, has spent the last year patching up differences with critics, especially in the environmental community. Complaints about his record on the environment have slowed to a few mumbles, mostly about his endorsement of plans by Occidental Petroleum to drill for oil in Pacific Palisades.
Active Fund Raiser
Bradley is also actively raising money, appearing at some kind of fund-raising event most nights, aides said. He raised about $150,000 this week at a reception in Hollywood attended by contributors from the city’s Asian communities, recently collected another chunk of checks at a reception hosted by gay business leaders, and has a major fund-raising dinner Dec. 13 in Century City.
No matter who wins, many observers think the campaign is likely to cause deep political wounds. It will pit two liberals against each other and force a split in the alliance of white liberals, most of them Jewish, and minorities that elected Bradley 15 years ago.