This election season, Los Angeles is beginning to look like Sacramento South.
There are now four members of the City Council with Sacramento experience -- Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmen Richard Alarcon, Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian -- plus Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
And there is no shortage of Sacramento-experienced politicians running for city office in the March 5 primary election. For races where no candidate receives a majority, there will be a May 21 runoff.
The migration to the Los Angeles City Council is due to term limits. The local office offers the chance to extend a political career for another 12 years, plus the opportunity for a better-paying job with less travel. Being a state legislator pays $90,259 a year compared to the $178,790 a year paid City Council members, plus perks that include a car.
While some candidates and observers have argued that so many politicians with a background in the state Legislature could mean more city business being conducted behind closed doors, others argue it depends on the official.
"There are a number of very qualified officials who will fit in with how the city operates," said Dan Schnur, executive director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute at USC.
"If it wasn't for term limits, you wouldn't have so many running for the City Council. Arguably, it's a better job because it pays better, you are one of 15 instead of one of 120 and you don't spend half your life on Southwest Airlines flying back and forth."
State legislators now are limited to 12 years in office, which they can serve in one house or divide between the Assembly and the Senate. Previously, the limits were six years for the Assembly and eight years for the Senate.
On the council, Alarcon is termed out this July 1 from his 7th Council District, and former state assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, is running to fill his vacancy.
Four other current and former legislators are running for other seats.
Among them is Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, in the 3rd Council District and, outside the San Fernando Valley area, there are several others.
In the 1st Council District where incumbent Ed Reyes is termed out, former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo is running against Reyes' chief deputy, Jose Gardea and businessman Jesse Rosas.
In the 9th Council District where incumbent Jan Perry is termed out and running for mayor, there are two Sacramento veterans running to succeed her. They are state Sen. Curren D. Price and former Assemblyman Mike Davis.
That race has drawn a crowded field which includes Deputy Police Chief Terry Hara and Ana Cubas, chief deputy to Councilman Jose Huizar as well as community development advocate David Roberts, who served on the city Redistricting Commission. Also in the race are teacher Ron Gochez and neighborhood council member Manuel "Manny" Aldana.
There are no state legislators running in the three other open City Council seats.
In the 11th District, where incumbent Bill Rosendahl decided against seeking another term for health reasons, his top deputy, Mike Bonin, has been leading the field of candidates in terms of fundraising and endorsements.
The other candidates include prosecutor Tina Hess, teacher Odysseus Bostick and community advocate Frederick Sutton.
For the 13th District seat where incumbent Eric Garcetti is termed out and running for mayor, there are 12 candidates looking to succeed him.
The field includes a broad mix of community and political activists and range from an assistant fire chief, Emile Mack, to a former deputy mayor, Matt Szabo.
Others in the contest include council senior advisor Mitch O'Farrell, business owner Roberto Haraldson, Deputy Attorney General Josh Post, university professor Octavio Pescador, commissioner John Choi, neighborhood council member Sam Kbushyan, senate district director Robert Negrete, small business owner Michael Schaefer, neighborhood council president Jose Sigala and charitable foundation director Alexander Cruz de Ocampo.
In the 15th Council District, Councilman Joe Buscaino is running for a full term after winning a special election to fill the vacancy created with Janice Hahn's election to Congress. He is being challenged by minister James Law.
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