The Los Angeles Times editorial board has invited each of the 77 candidates for 17 Los Angeles city, school district and community college district offices on the March 5 ballot to meet and discuss their candidacies as the board considers endorsements. To make our recommendations, the board goes beyond our face-to-face discussions and studies the candidates, the districts and the issues and weighs them against the needs of the city. Editorial writers offer some thoughts and questions about the contests in our blog, Opinion L.A., and we invite readers to share their thinking.
Q: How do you decide which candidates to interview?
A: We invite every candidate who qualifies for the ballot to meet and interview with us.
Q: Have you always done that?
A: No, not always. City elections usually have dozens of candidates -- this year there are 77, including school and college boards -- and it's a very time-consuming process to meet with each of them. In some elections we concentrated on only the open-seat contests or only those candidates whose support made them appear the most viable. We continue to endorse selectively. But over the last several years we have expanded our commitment and have selected every Los Angeles contest and every candidate who qualifies for the ballot. We believe that wherever voters must make a choice, we should do our best to examine the candidates and issues and to make recommendations. Because we weigh in on, for example, each City Council district when each voter must make a decision in only one district, we spend a great deal of time on endorsements.
Q: What do candidates get in exchange for meeting with you?
A: A glass of water or a cup of coffee, and the undivided attention of at least two members of The Times' editorial board.
Q: When will you publish your endorsements?
A: Through the month of February. The election is March 5. Early voting begins in early February.
Q: Are your endorsement interviews open or closed?
A: In this round they are closed and off the record, meaning that the only people in the room are the candidate and members of the editorial board, and that we don't report what was said during each meeting. We believe that allows us to explore the issues fully and candidly with each candidate without turning our meetings into news conferences. We have experimented in the past with recording our meetings and making the questions and answers public. There are obvious advantages to getting candidate statements and commitments on the record, but that's also something that can be achieved in candidate forums. There are pluses and minuses with each approach, as long as each candidate in any given election is treated the same.
Q: Are your decisions based solely on your meeting with each candidate?
A: No. If we did that, we'd be endorsing based on a performance rather than a more complete assessment of the candidate and his or her fitness for office. We do a lot of reporting, looking into the abilities of the candidates, the needs of their districts and the city at large, and our own evaluation of what's best for Los Angeles. We often, but not always, meet separately with candidates, on the record, to learn more about them and to share what we learn with our readers. We attend and sometimes participate in candidate forums. And as always, we invite our readers to share their thoughts and comments.
We intend to offer endorsements in each of the following races:
Emanuel Alberto Pleitez
Addie M. Miller
Yehuda "YJ" Draiman
Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich
Council member, District 1
Jose A. Gardea
Council member, District 3
Steven E. Presberg
Cary T. Iaccino
Council member, District 5
Mark Matthew Herd
Council member, District 7
Jesse David Barron
Council member, District 9
Curren D. Price
Manuel "Manny" Aldana
Council member, District 11
Council member, District 13
John J. Choi
Alexander Cruz de Ocampo
Council member, District 15
James T. Law
Proposition A: Neighborhood Public Safety and Vital City Services Funding and Accountability Measure (city sales tax)
Charter Amendment B: Fire and Police Pension Plan; Cost Neutral Purchases of Retirement Credit by Certain Members.
LAUSD Board of Education, District 2
Robert D. Skeels
LAUSD Board of Education, District 4
LAUSD Board of Education, District 6
LACCD Board of Trustees, Seat 2 (at large)
John C. Burke
LACCD Board of Trustees, Seat 4 (at large)
Jozef "Joe" Thomas Essavi
Ernest Henry Moreno
LACCD Board of Trustees, Seat 6 (at large)
Michael "Mike" Aldapa
Los Angeles County Stormwater Parcel Tax (separate mail-only ballot)