Emanuel Pleitez wants to be the next mayor of Los Angeles, but the 29 year old resident of El Sereno is one of many in a crowded field of candidates that include local career politicians with name brand recognition. He’s going up against 9th District City Councilmember Jan Perry, 13th District Councilmember Eric Garcetti, and Wendy Greuel, City Controller and former City Councilwoman for the 2nd district.
Pleitez, of Mexican and Salvadoran descent, is hoping that his identifying as an average Angeleno, especially those who feel underserved, is what will put him ahead.
“I went to public school. I moved around. As the son of a single mom, I know what it is like to not know if there is going to be enough money for rent or for food, “ he told Politic365 via telephone on Wednesday.
But Pleitez, who grew up in South LA and east of downtown, is more than your average resident of Los Angeles. He’s graduate of Stanford, worked at Goldman Sachs, was part of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, served on President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of Spokeo, an online data aggregator. Pleitez is also no stranger to electoral politics. In 2009, he unsuccessfully ran for California’s 32nd congressional district seat against Gil Cedilo and Judy Chu.
Yet despite his varied experiences within the political and business power structure, Pleitez continuously plays down his privileges, trying to appeal to the masses who he says feel ignored by Los Angeles City Hall.
“I understand the different dynamics among political appointees, civil servants, working for a private firm, being a per hour worker and having access or not to benefits. I have a dual way of looking at things. I have the most experience in terms of policy, in terms of working with finances, in terms of working with the President and using different platforms. I’m attuned to new trends offline and online, ” Pleitez said balancing that fence between Latino boy next door and upwardly mobile political player.
He also wants to redefine the office of the Mayor while understanding how much money is at the root of the problem. “It’s more than being an executive director. Having worked in a non-profit, I can say I’m the only one who has raised money without being a public official. I have done more with fewer resources and I think this city needs that scrappy, can do attitude,” Pleitez said confidently.
Pleitez certainly has his finger on the hot button issues of the City of Angels, problems he says that his opponents are afraid to talk about. He rattled off his key issues including pension reform, high school dropout rates, and real training for the unemployed, “The city needs an all hands on deck strategy when it comes to graduation rates and Los Angeles needs to be one, the HR department for those seeking jobs and training and two, the back office to support small and growing businesses.”
And Pleitez doesn’t just want to talk about the economy and education. He wants to talk about more controversial issues, issues like policing and public transit access that have divided Los Angeles. “We need to talk about disconnected youth, public safety, and community policing not more gang injunctions,” Pleitez added, “L.A. needs a mayor who knows and understands what you can do. This includes looking at the city infrastructure to increase mobility for all, not a just light rail. I’m talking bike lanes, public transit and looking at bringing in private bus lines,” And just because Pleitez used to work for incumbent Villaraigosa doesn’t mean he’s an apologist, especially when it comes to public transportation, “He [Villaraigosa] said he would get federal transportation funding and it never happened. My experience at Goldman means I can get private capital into the public sector for infrastructure.”
When asked about the importance of the next mayor of Los Angeles being a person of color, a Latino like Villaraigosa, whom Pleitez once worked for, the candidate favored a class analysis over a racial one explaining, “I think it’s important that people from the poorest neighborhoods rise and represent as leaders. My campaign, with an unprecedented amount of volunteers is going to give respect to voters, be grassroots, and let people know they have choices.”