Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti Administration To Hire More Than 100 To His Office, Swamped With Candidates

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In the first days since announcing his transition plans to seek ideas from the public and solicit new faces for city hall, Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti has been deluged with those who want to be part of the new administration, which takes the reins from outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on July 1.

"In the first weekend, we received a few hundred emails from people who want to work in the administration, be a commissioner or offer suggestions," Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said. "We are trying to take a different approach with our transition than others have done.

"Rather than have a committee of big donors, we are trying to reach out to the community to tell us what they need. No one understands the needs of a neighborhood more than the people who live there."

The suggestions are arriving at a designated website: transition.lacity.org.

Garcetti's first priority is to hire senior staff who will be to take over on July 1 and who will focus on a few main areas of concern, Robb said.

First is economic development, followed closely by public safety to make sure crime rates continue to decline, he said.

"The goal is to make government work better for people as we pursue economic development and create jobs for people. We want to get the best people we can and put the best ideas in place."

Heading the transition team is Richard Llewellyn, who served as chief of staff to Garcetti and was an adviser to his father, former District Attorney Gil Garcetti.

Llewellyn will be given assistance in the coming days as more applications arrive, Robb said.

In addition, a separate inauguration committee will be formed to oversee planning for the inaugural event.

"We are trying to make it different from past inaugurations," Robb said. "We hope to make it more people oriented."

Garcetti plans to raise the money privately to cover the costs of the transition and inauguration with a cap of $250,000. No one donor can give more than $10,000.

Robin Kramer, who oversaw the transitions of Villaraigosa from former Mayor James Hahn as well as that of former Mayor Richard Riordan from former Mayor Tom Bradley, called it one of the most challenging jobs the new mayor will face.

"You have all these positions to fill -- more than 100 in his office and more than 300 commissioners," Kramer said. "It's a lot different than staffing a City Council office.

"And, time is not your friend. You have to be ready to take over on July 1. The attitude you need is to be quick, but don't hurry."

When Villaraigosa took over, he kept about 50 of Hahn's staff on a trial basis to see if they would fit in with the new mayor's agenda and many ended up as permanent employees.

Garcetti will be tempted to do the same, particularly in programs such as the Gang Reduction and Youth Development team, which has adopted programs Garcetti advanced as a council member, such as the Saturday Night Lights basketball program.

Kramer said she has been impressed with Garcetti's start in turning to experienced people to help him and in making such prominent use of the internet to help take applications.

Also, she said she expects there to be a smooth transition since Villaraigosa remained neutral in the race and Garcetti did not attack his administration during the campaign.

Garcetti did say he will ask every general manager to reapply for their jobs after July 1, underscoring the new mayor's intention to shape the city as well as his power to hire and fire department heads. It will apply to all general managers except Police Chief Charlie Beck, who is on contract.

"Because of his work on the council, he has a good idea about the work of the departments," Robb said. "But, he is being open to everyone."

In addition to his staff and the departments, the mayor is responsible for appointing all the citizen commissioners to the 48 city panels that advise and oversee departments. Commissioner serve at the pleasure of the mayor.

"The thing about city transitions is there is no playbook," Kramer said. "There has been a lot of scholarly work about presidential transitions, but nothing about cities. The key thing is to set a few leadership and operational goals and make sure his staff is aligned with that."

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