Hours before his inauguration as mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti signaled that he plans to give vanquished rival Jan Perry a senior role in his administration.
Perry, whose 12 years on the City Council end Sunday, won nearly every precinct in South Los Angeles in the March mayoral primary but did not make it into the May runoff.
"Twelve years of elected service does not mean the end of her service, mark my words," Garcetti told parishioners at First African Methodist Episcopal Church in South L.A., one of the city's most prominent African American churches, on Sunday. "I've got plans for her."
Perry, the only African American among the top contenders for mayor, declined to comment. She backed Garcetti in his runoff against Wendy Greuel, the city controller.
In his morning appearance, Garcetti cast himself as a champion of the underprivileged and he previewed the inaugural ceremony that will start at 6 p.m. Sunday outside City Hall.
Garcetti said he had picked Kenia Castillo, the 13-year-old daughter of a janitor, to swear him in, rather than "some big elected official or my father," former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti.
"I wanted this city to understand that I know the power comes from you, from the least among us, from the most humble, from the forgotten, from those voices and those faces who aren't even in the pews today," he said.
Garcetti told the congregation that he had chosen fifth-grader Lily Newman to lead the Pledge of Allegiance because when he met her at her Porter Ranch school, she gave him a jar full of nickels, dimes and quarters that she'd collected from classmates for his campaign.
"That jar will be by my side," Garcetti said. "And it will remind me that it is time for us to raise up a generation that believes that Los Angeles is not just a big city…but a great city. And greatness is defined not by how much wealth we have in the best places, but by how much we lift up the worst, how much we welcome back those coming home from prison, those coming back from war, those sleeping under a bridge no more, and those who need just some hope."
Outside the church, Garcetti said he would tell the city in his inaugural speech that "focusing on the basics isn't boring."
"It's critical," said Garcetti, who vowed during his campaign to do a better job of getting potholes filled and trash picked up. "It's how change gets made."
Garcetti, who officially takes power from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Sunday night at midnight, said he would meet Monday morning with business leaders from around the city to talk about improving the L.A. economy.
He said he would spend three hours in the afternoon meeting with "normal Angelenos" who have reached out to him online to share their concerns. Garcetti has pledged to hold "office hours" on a regular basis to meet with city residents.
Garcetti's presence at First AME on the morning of his inaugural carried symbolic weight: South L.A. was the lone region of the city carried decisively by his runoff opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel. Most of the city's black political leadership backed Greuel. First AME's senior minister, the Rev. J. Edgar Boyd, was one of the few black church leaders who sided with Garcetti.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), one of Greuel's top black supporters, sought to reconcile with Garcetti on Sunday in remarks to the parishioners just before the mayor-elect spoke.
"We expect you to do well," she told Garcetti from the pulpit. "And if you don't do well, we're going to love you anyway."