In an effort to position himself as a key player at City Hall, Councilman Alex Padilla said Wednesday that he is taking on veteran Councilwoman Ruth Galanter in the contest for council president.
Padilla, who at 28 is the youngest member of the City Council, said he was approached in recent days by supporters who urged him to seek the position held by longtime Councilman John Ferraro until his death April 17.
Council members are set to pick the president on Tuesday. The winner, elected to a two-year term, will preside over council meetings and, most important, make committee assignments that can determine which issues have top priority.
"This is an exciting time for the city of Los Angeles, with so many new members coming in," said Padilla, who for the past two years has served parts of Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sylmar and Van Nuys. "There's a tone of optimism and energy for putting the vision together for the city."
By declaring his candidacy, Padilla is touching off a battle that could pit the council newcomers against the old guard. Shortly after Ferraro's death, Galanter announced that she was seeking the position. After serving 14 years on the council, Galanter--who will be termed out of office in two years--is considered the favorite among longtime council members.
In recent weeks, council members Nick Pacheco and Cindy Miscikowski have expressed interest in running for president, but in recent days have decided to support Padilla, according to City Hall sources.
"A Latino moderate council president would really be a great, great way of unifying and healing the city," Pacheco said. "I want to be a part of anything that brings the city together and Alex right now is in the best position to do that."