With hugs or high-fives for nearly every person in the room, Los Angeles mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg climbed atop a desk chair Sunday and kicked off a drive to recruit volunteers to knock on doors and call voters.
To the cheers of several hundred people at a new campaign headquarters in an Encino office park, Hertzberg asked Angelenos to help him change city government.
“I’m not somebody who is absolutely paralyzed like so many people in politics because they don’t take risks,” the former state Assembly speaker said. “They won’t push the envelope. This is Los Angeles. That’s what we do.”
Hertzberg emphasized proposals that he said differentiate him from other mayoral candidates: breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District to allow for more local control, banning road construction during rush hours and adding police officers without raising taxes. (Several other candidates also have proposed expanding the Los Angeles Police Department.)
“I just saw what the current incumbent was doing, and I just couldn’t look at myself in the mirror and say I was going to let this city go over the cliff,” he said.
Other major candidates vying to unseat Mayor James K. Hahn were also wooing voters Sunday. Campaign spokesmen said City Councilman Bernard C. Parks visited six churches in San Pedro and Wilmington on Sunday morning, while fellow Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa attended services at two Baptist churches in South Los Angeles.
The mayor attended a rally against suicide bombings at the Museum of Tolerance and a ceremony to light the Vincent Thomas Bridge, which links San Pedro with Long Beach. Hahn’s representatives said he was making city appearances, not campaign stops.
Hertzberg, a lawyer from Sherman Oaks who represented the Valley as a Democrat from 1996 to 2002, is counting on heavy support in the San Fernando Valley.
Maps of the nearby Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area and a three-dimensional map of the county with the Valley at the center hung at the entrance to the campaign headquarters.
The first to speak on Hertzberg’s behalf Sunday was Keith Richman, a Republican assemblyman who supported the Valley’s unsuccessful effort in 2002 to secede from Los Angeles and won the most votes for mayor of the proposed city.
“It’s really my pleasure as probably the only elected mayor of the Valley to be introducing the next mayor of Los Angeles,” he said as supporters laughed and clapped.
Raj Rupani, 18, who helped campaign for President Bush last fall, said he believed Hertzberg had great crossover appeal.
The Chatsworth High School student said he was going to try to persuade students across the Valley to make calls on Hertzberg’s behalf.
“I agree with him on lots of stuff,” he said. “He’s business-friendly. He’s straightforward and very likable.”