After a news conference Wednesday to mark his election to the Los Angeles City Council, Mike Feuer and his wife were introduced to his new colleagues sitting around the council chamber's trademark "horseshoe."
Councilman Joel Wachs joked that Feuer's election not only brings another liberal Democrat to a panel already dominated by Democrats but also will shift the seating assignments in the chamber, which are arranged by alphabetical order around the horseshoe configuration.
"He has been here only one day and he is moving us over to the left," Wachs joked.
"Not a moment too soon," responded Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg.
In addition to adding another liberal voice to the panel, Feuer is expected to play a pivotal role in such issues as campaign finance reform, Mayor Richard Riordan's public safety program and earthquake reconstruction efforts in the San Fernando Valley.
During his successful campaign against Barbara Yaroslavsky for the 5th District seat, Feuer repeatedly said he wanted to prohibit lobbyists from contributing to the officeholder accounts of council members--a measure that was recently proposed by the city's Ethics Commission but killed by a council committee.
Goldberg, who supports finance reform, said she expects Feuer to be a welcome ally in the fight to impose tough new measures in City Hall.
Because Feuer was endorsed by the union that represents the rank and file officers of the Police Department, other council members said they expected him to help improve the sometimes rocky relationship between the council and the officers and provide additional support for Riordan's public safety program.
"He is going to be a council member who is able to see the full picture," said Councilwoman Laura Chick, a stalwart LAPD supporter.
Riordan agreed, saying he and Feuer "see eye to eye on developing more community-based policing."
One of Feuer's first actions Wednesday was to have a fence-mending meeting with Riordan, who had endorsed Yaroslavsky.
Riordan called it a "positive" meeting and characterized Feuer as a "very able guy."
Feuer replaces Yaroslavsky's husband, Zev, who resigned last year after he was elected to the County Board of Supervisors.
During his news conference, Feuer reiterated his vow to do away with a controversial city plan to use redevelopment powers to help rebuild quake-damaged neighborhoods in Sherman Oaks--a plan that was championed by Zev Yaroslavsky just before he resigned. Feuer promised to find alternative city resources to help speed up the city's quake recovery efforts.
Feuer, a political neophyte who directed a legal services clinic for eight years, drew 68% of the vote, compared to 32% for Yaroslavsky. The overwhelming victory stunned many political pundits who expected a stronger performance from Yaroslavsky because of her name recognition, fund-raising lead and the endorsement of Riordan and other influential lawmakers.