Garcetti picks former rival Kevin James for public works board

Garcetti picks former rival Kevin James for public works board
Then-Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti holds a news conference along with three former mayoral candidates who endorsed him: Kevin James, left, Emanuel Pleitez and Jan Perry at Barnsdall Park in April.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday named former rival Kevin James, who placed third in the March 5 primary election, to serve on the powerful Board of Public Works.

James, a Republican radio host who campaigned aggressively for Garcetti in the run-up to the May 21 runoff election, was one of six new appointees announced by the newly installed mayor.


Other public works commissioners announced by Garcetti are Matt Szabo, former deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Barbara Romero, a planning commissioner under Villaraigosa; former Assemblyman Mike Davis, who represented part of South Los Angeles until last year; and Monica Rodriguez, an executive with the California Assn. of Realtors who ran unsuccessfully in 2007 for a San Fernando Valley seat on the City Council.

The public works board is the city’s only paying commission, overseeing such nuts-and-bolts services as tree trimming, pothole filling, trash pickup and sewer maintenance. Each appointee earns more than $134,000 annually and must be confirmed by the City Council, according to city officials.


Garcetti also announced the selection of former Ventura City Manager Rick Cole as deputy mayor for budget and innovation. Cole, 60, is a former Pasadena mayor who has also served as city manager in the San Gabriel Valley city of Azusa.

Garcetti said Cole “will be a critical asset to my agenda of balancing the budget and making City Hall work better.”

The newly installed mayor has already picked Doane Liu, a former chief of staff to Councilman Joe Buscaino, as his deputy mayor for city services. Garcetti also announced last week that another rival in the mayor’s race, former Councilwoman Jan Perry, would temporarily run the new city department devoted to economic development.

James was a lightning rod during the campaign, coming under fire from Garcetti’s opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel, and many of her supporters for disparaging remarks he made about undocumented immigrants. James said earlier this year he changed his views on the topic after participating in immigrant workshops and learning about the barriers to citizenship.


While he was running for mayor, James said he favors naturalization for immigrants who have been in the United States for at least a decade and supports California’s version of the Dream Act, which guarantees access to college for students who have lived here most of their lives.


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Twitter: @davidzahniser


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