Can Jan Perry, the Underdog, Become Los Angeles’ Next Mayor?

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Both Gruel and Garcetti are liberal Democrats, and, like Perry, boast strong connections and popularity with African Americans and Jews.  Garcetti, who’s father, a former Los Angeles County District Attorney, is half Italian and half Mexican-American, is half Jewish. Gruel has a Jewish husband.

In Los Angeles, where an estimated 20 percent of the voters are Jewish, many of whom, whom contribute large sums of money to political campaigns, that ethnic connection is a highly valuable asset.

Perry, a convert to Judaism some years ago, hopes to match Gruel and Garcetti in contributions and support in the Jewish community.  But Gruel’s presence as a woman removes any gender advantage Perry may have had If Gruel were not a candidate and Perry thus could compete against an all male field.

In an interview with, Perry, who has spoken Spanish since age 15, articulated her accomplishments as a councilwoman since 2001.  In addition, solicited comments from Councilman Parks, Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP–and four other leaders who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Perry bills herself as “a business friendly Democrat.”  She told that her candidacy is aimed at “continuing my work in seeing to it that this city rebuilds and recovers, that people are put back to work and that everyone’s child has a decent education, so there is no reason to leave anyone or any community behind.”

In her city council district, the Ninth, Perry said in a recently printed campaign piece, she has “delivered results and has changed the way people view the city.”  Over the past decade, according to the piece, “Perry has supported major development projects in Downtown Los Angeles that represent over $15 billion in private investment and provided the city with over $40 million in new tax revenues.”

Under her watch, the piece continued, Perry “downtown development led to the creation of over 90,000 full-time jobs in both permanent and construction” employment.

Perry, the piece informs, has steered “catalytic developments, from ‘LA Live’ to iconic developments,  Our Lady of Angeles Cathedral and such major public buildings as the new Police Administration Building.”  She has been, the piece further said, “in the forefront of ensuring that downtown moves forward to meet its potential as the economic engine for the region and works to afford people living in the city with more employment and affordable housing opportunities.”

In a mid-July article in The Downtown News, Perry was stroked as “the best, most effective and forward thinking council representative Downtown Los Angeles has ever seen.”

Perry, the article enthused, “has set the bar high for all Downtown council representatives. The community is a much better place today than it was when she arrived.  Downtown has been fortunate to have her as a champion.”

“Although Skid Row residents and service providers are not contributing much to her campaign and won’t provide many votes come election day,” the article predicted, “Perry has put more time, energy and resources into Skid Row than any politician ever.”

One of the leaders spoke to and who agreed to comment, but without attribution, said, “she can win this race, give her time to roll out her campaign.  We just finished an exhausting presidential campaign and important Senate and House races; she’s raising her money and refining her message, she can win this seat.”

Councilman Parks, in his interview, was even more optimistic in assessing her campaign. “Of course I believe she can win this race, if I didn’t believe she can, I wouldn’t have endorsed her.  I’ve been on the phone raising money and seeking commitments for her and I will continue to do that.”

When Perry’s “story is told,” Parks predicted, “I believe people who may be leaning toward other candidates will decide to support her.  She has a very powerful story that touches everyone from women, to the Jewish community, Latinos, Asians and African Americans.”

Jenkins, the NAACP branch president, echoed Parks’ assessment when he said, “one of the two leading candidates so far is Jewish and Latino, the other is an Anglo, but voters in these groups are not dominated by single mindset.  They are not homogeneous, so Perry has a real opportunity to reach across all ethnic and racial lines for their support and win liberals and moderates too.”

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