The race to succeed Richard Alatorre as Los Angeles’ 14th District City Council member is, in a word, vigorous. In a 14-person contest likely to result in a June runoff there are several standout candidates. One is the odds-on favorite in the April 13 election, Victor Griego, 43, a well-connected political and community leader with deep roots in the Eastside district. This graduate of Cathedral High School, East L.A. College and Whittier College worked his way up through the old United Neighborhoods Organization and has a solid background in voter registration.
As a businessman and college and trade school instructor, Griego seems the most seasoned and firmly established candidate. His powerful supporters include Rep. Esteban Torres (D-Los Angeles), Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa and state Senate Majority Leader Richard Polanco. Griego already is acting like a councilman, having organized and participated in volunteer street cleanups that have removed 10 tons of trash.
Then there are strong, young competitors like Luis Cetina and Alvin D. Parra.
In the eyes of some, Parra hurt himself by committing the sin of challenging Alatorre four years ago and winning more than 40% of the vote. In The Times’ view, Parra had the guts to criticize Alatorre’s weakening performance when few others would. Now, Parra, 30, is back with both name recognition and a formidable war chest. His goals include improved constituent services, an economic development plan and a campaign to curtail the district’s street gang problem.
Luis Cetina, 33, is a Metropolitan Water District engineer and a board member of the L.A. Center for Law and Justice. His vigorous and well-backed campaign includes a three-point program for improving the district: suppressing gangs, improving city services and building consensus among community groups for district goals.
The political talent doesn’t stop there. Assistant Dist. Atty. Nick Pacheco is backed by Mayor Richard Riordan and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles).
The candidates’ work is cut out for them in a district that respects the achievement of Alatorre and still longs for the clout of Alatorre’s predecessor, Art Snyder. The 14th has a range of talents from which to choose.