Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said Wednesday he hasn't ruled out a bid for mayor in 2017, raising the possibility of a major challenge to the incumbent, Eric Garcetti.
Ridley-Thomas, who represents a swath of south Los Angeles County, made his statement in response to a question from The Times following an appearance at a swearing-in ceremony for newly installed Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
During the ceremony, the county supervisor identified a list of challenges that he said Harris-Dawson and other elected officials face.
"We ought to be unsatisfied about homelessness in Los Angeles," Ridley-Thomas told the crowd. "I think we ought to be unsatisfied about excessive use of force in Los Angeles. I believe we ought to do what we need to do to work on income inequality in Los Angeles. I think we have a lot of work to do."
Asked after the ceremony whether he has ruled out a mayoral run in the next citywide election, Ridley-Thomas said, "No." He declined to answer follow-up questions about when and how he will make a decision.
"I'm not prepared to go beyond that at this point," he said.
Ridley-Thomas, who represents communities stretching from Carson to Culver City, is a political veteran who has served in the state Legislature, on the City Council, and most recently, the county's elected board. Two years ago, he endorsed Garcetti's opponent, then-city Controller Wendy Greuel, in the race for mayor. He also has had enormous support from the county Federation of Labor, which also backed Greuel.
Garcetti, who already has begun raising money for his reelection, said he wasn't worried by Ridley-Thomas' statement. He described the county supervisor as a friend and ally on the county's Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, where both sit.
"I get along great with him. We've worked wonderfully together, and I look forward to winning his support," he said.
Wednesday marked the halfway point in Garcetti's four-year mayoral term. The election is in March 2017, and if no one receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held two months later.
Ridley-Thomas' district includes some heavily African American neighborhoods. Garcetti has struggled in recent weeks to respond to complaints from activists with Black Lives Matter, who criticized him for leaving town instead of meeting with them to address their concerns about police shootings of people of color.
Garcetti has already begun picking up support from some officials at City Hall, including council members Mike Bonin and Joe Buscaino. Council President Herb Wesson said last week he was backing Garcetti and had no interest in running for mayor.
Times staff writer Angel Jennings contributed to this report.