Born to run

FIRST OF ALL, it is absolutely untrue that Richard Alarcon might never serve in the state Assembly. He took the oath in Sacramento on Monday and stuck around for much of the afternoon, so that's almost one whole day right there. Yes, he went home after that, because he has to get ready for Sunday night's fundraiser for his campaign for the L.A. City Council. That election is March 6, and even if he wins, he will have been a member of the Assembly for three months. If there's a runoff, and he's in it, that takes him through the first week of May. And he might not win, so he could end up putting in a whole year -- more, even! -- before launching a campaign for some other office.

He's serious about serving in the Assembly, if even for a few weeks -- a fact driven home by a gander last weekend at the 39th Assembly District website, when Cindy Montanez still held the office. Even so, it was Alarcon's face that came on-screen, showing he just couldn't wait to get going. Meanwhile, his mug was still on the 20th Senate District site, showing he was reluctant to leave.

So don't get cynical about Alarcon, who was elected to the City Council in 1993 and left midway into his second term to run for the state Senate. Clearly he didn't get the chance to finish the job on the council, so it only makes sense for him to ditch Sacramento -- after a few weeks on the job to which he was elected last month -- and come back to City Hall. It clearly has nothing to do with the new, higher City Council salary of $171,648 a year (it's $113,098 for members of the Assembly) or the extra term that council members just won with Proposition R. Alarcon was eligible to run again for the council anyway because he stuck around for less than half of his second term in the '90s.

Remember, of course, that Alarcon was replaced on the council by a protege, Alex Padilla, who ran unopposed for the state Senate after a hard-fought June primary battle against Montanez, another Alarcon protege who became a front-runner of sorts for the City Council seat being vacated by Padilla, which Alarcon once held, and which Alarcon is seeking again and for which he can file today after returning from Sacramento to be sworn into the Assembly. See? This isn't hard. There are only a few players to remember.

You may also recall that Alarcon spent part of his tenure in the state Senate last year running for mayor of L.A. The problem clearly is the constitutional prohibition on holding more than one office at once. That ought to be changed, so that Alarcon can simultaneously represent the east San Fernando Valley in the Senate, the Assembly, the City Council and maybe even as mayor of one city or another. At least until he makes up his mind.

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