Treasurer considers reelection

CITY HALL — City Treasurer Ron Borucki, citing an ever-worsening economic climate, on Friday said he is reconsidering his earlier decision not to seek reelection.

The position is a significant shift for the city treasurer, who has said repeatedly that he was looking forward to retirement after nearly 10 years of guiding the city’s sizable investment portfolio.

But over the past month, what started out as a mortgage crisis has descended into a meltdown on Wall Street, resulting in a credit freeze that has driven the stock market into the ground.

The city’s $440-million portfolio — tied mostly to shorter-term, top-rated institutions — is still relatively safe, but given a new economic landscape in which entire banking behemoths have been swallowed up one after another, Borucki said it was prudent to at least reconsider a decision made long before the financial mess.

“I’m just rethinking, that’s all,” he said. “These are extraordinary times.”

Borucki was appointed to the position mid-term by the City Council in 1999 and then ran unopposed in 2001. He has since earned a reputation for his apolitical approach to the job, preferring to stay out of the spotlight.

He declined to comment on when a final decision would be made, except to say that his family’s input would have a lot to do with it.

“I need to make sure I get this decision right,” he said.

If Borucki decides to seek reelection, it could have far-reaching implications for the April City Council election, in which three seats are up for grabs.

City Councilmen Frank Quintero and Ara Najarian are running for reelection, but Councilman Bob Yousefian announced in September that he would transfer his reelection campaign over to the open race for the city treasurer’s seat.

But on Friday, Yousefian said he not yet officially transferred his City Council reelection campaign funds and related documents with the state and, given Borucki’s second thoughts, was “standing still.”

“The mere fact that he decided not to run is the reason I decided to go for it because I was very concerned about who was going to be controlling all this money,” Yousefian said.

He and former City Councilman Rafi Manoukian remain the only two candidates to either have filed, or openly declared their candidacy, for the city treasurer position.

Borucki said the composition of the current candidate field had also affected his decision to rethink the possibility of a reelection campaign, since he was unwilling to turn over a city investment portfolio to someone who might require a “long-learning curve” once in office.

Yousefian said he would not run against the current city treasurer, but only if he had assurances Borucki was in it for the long haul.

Complicating matters is Mia Lee, who was appointed to the Audit Committee by the City Council on Sept. 30.

Since Lee is first vice president of corporate compliance at IndyMac bank, civic leaders said she would be a formidable candidate.

Lee confirmed Friday that she was in the “exploratory phase” of the process and still had plenty of research to do before making a decision on whether to leave the private sector and run for public office.

“I have a lot of soul-searching with what I want to do with my career,” she said.

The absolute deadline for candidates for any municipal office isn’t until January, but the campaign seasons for city treasurer and the City Council — either because of the down economy or a number of high-profile policy issues that have run through City Hall — have started early.

A few challengers have already entered the City Council race, including Adams Hill Homeowners Assn. President Michael Teahan and Design Review Board Chairwoman Laura Friedman.

The possibility of Yousefian reentering the City Council race did not faze either of them.

“All I can do is run my campaign and get my message out to the people, and I can’t really worry about who’s running,” Friedman said.


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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