The Race for One of L.A. County’s Most Powerful Posts Is Starting to Take Shape

Controller Ron Galperin joins Lindsey Horvath and Richard Bloom in a bid for a county supervisor seat that’s sure to be hotly contested
256

Ron Galperin, who for eight years has served as Los Angeles City Controller, this morning announced his candidacy for the Third District County Supervisor seat being vacated next year by Sheila Kuehl.

He becomes arguably the biggest name to run for one of the most important posts in local government. Although the five county supervisors can fly under the radar, each represents a district of approximately 2 million residents, and they shape an annual budget of more than $30 billion, with oversight of key entities including the Sheriff’s Department and the County Department of Public Health.

Galperin was an upset winner of the Controller’s seat in 2013, making him essentially the fiscal watchdog for Los Angeles residents. He was unopposed in his re-election bid in 2017, and like other city officials his second term was super-sized by 18 months after voters approved changing Los Angeles election dates to align with state and federal ballots. His term runs through late 2022.

Galperin cast his run as a move to effect change at a time of flux.

“L.A. is at a turning point,” he said in a prepared statement announcing his candidacy. “As we begin to emerge from more than a year of COVID-19, we face enormous challenges, but also have great opportunities that must be tackled with guts and vision. It takes leadership and a willingness to fight to deliver a more equitable Los Angeles.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ron Galperin (@lacontroller)

He is seeking to succeed Kuehl, who won the powerful post in 2014, but is choosing not to run for a third and final term. She will step down at the end of next year.

Galperin, a former attorney and small business owner and, early in his career, a journalist, will face stiff competition. Kuehl has already endorsed West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath (the mayor’s job rotates among council members in the city). Horvath is building her campaign on issues including addressing homelessness and helping families in the post-COVID era, and will point to moves including authoring a resolution a decade ago to have West Hollywood halt doing business with Arizona in response to the state passing anti-immigration laws. Horvath also boasts the backing of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, a rising star in state Democratic circles.

Also in the race is state Assemblyman Richard Bloom, whose 50th District includes Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood. A former mayor of Santa Monica, Bloom has secured the endorsement of figures including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Secretary of State Shirley Weber and state Treasurer Fiona Ma. Campaign priorities, according to his website, include responding to homelessness and COVID-19 recovery, as well as climate matters and animal welfare.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Richard Bloom (@richardbloom)

In his eight years as Controller, Galperin largely stayed away from the tactics of previous officeholders such as Laura Chick, who was known for issuing withering performance audits zapping individual departments or city entities. Instead, he has tended to cast his net wider, pointing to questionable citywide practices such as the ghastly amounts paid out in overtime each year to city workers. He also publishes an annual report on waste, fraud and abuse in city government.

Additionally, Galperin, has pushed to make city spending and payroll data more transparent, creating portals on his website that reveal how much city employees earn (salaries are available by job title, but not by name).

The Third District, like other supervisorial territories, is massive, covering 431 square miles and stretching from Venice and Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley. It encompasses the cities of Malibu, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, as well as City of Los Angeles neighborhoods including Hancock Park, Atwater Village, and portions of Silver Lake and Los Feliz.

Running an effective campaign will require candidates to raise millions of dollars, and as with many local elections, securing the backing of labor unions could prove crucial. The huge territory and vast number of voting households in communities with little in common will make it a challenge for candidates to spread their message and increase their name ID.

The field of candidates could grow. State Senator Henry Stern, whose territory includes Calabasas, last month told a Thousand Oaks Acorn podcast that he is “seriously looking” at entering the race. Others are watching state Senator Bob Hertzberg, a longtime major player in local politics, to see if he will run.

The primary election takes place on June 7. If no one scores more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a November runoff.


RELATED: 2020 Was Another Big Year for Fiscal Chicanery in L.A. City Government


Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.