LA
06/09/2011 08:25 pm ET Updated Aug 09, 2011

Austin Beutner Reaches $200,000 Fundraising Benchmark

Story courtesy of The City Maven.

By Alice M. Walton

It has been less than two months since Austin Beutner left his post as the first deputy mayor in City Hall to launch his bid to be the next mayor of the city of Los Angeles, and now his days are spent meeting folks and raising money as he prepares for 2013.

The money seems to be coming along, with the Beutner camp giving notice yesterday that it has reached the $200,000 benchmark. The former investment banker is also spending days and evenings meeting constituents and civic leaders throughout the city.

"We started from scratch. We're making progress. We're making good progress," he told The City Maven earlier this week during an interview at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. "My campaign is going to be about getting past the reflexive geographic and identity politics to say we all have an interest in making Los Angeles work and seeing Angelenos get work."

Beutner came to most people's attention at the end of 2009 when it was announced that he would join the mayor's office with the responsibility of overseeing 12 city departments and 17,000 employees. Thanks to his financial success with The Blackstone Group and Evercore, Beutner famously worked for the city for $1 a year. He plans to do the same if elected mayor in two years, noting, "I don't need a job."

Some have suggested it could be tough for Beutner to raise funds if donors believe he will put his own money into the race at a later date. That's not likely, Beutner said.

"I tell people I'm contributing something far more valuable -- my time. I don't have to do this. I'm doing it because I think it matters and because I care, and if my time isn't worth something to people, I'll go do something else," he said.

In a race that already includes a council member and the controller, and is expected to have another council member, county supervisor and state senator, Beutner is positioning himself as the outsider who lacks the political credentials -- and baggage -- of his opponents.

"If Angelenos think we need more of the same, they should vote for someone in City Hall," Beutner said. "They should vote for someone who works for the county or works for the city in some formal fashion because they'll get more of the same. I don't see those in the city equipped to do things differently or to lead Los Angeles in a different way."

Despite criticism of "more of the same," Beutner has nothing but good things to say about Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"There are those in City Hall who love the intrigue. 'They're so different. How could they possibly get along?' He gave me plenty of room to do what I thought I could get done and he supported it," Beutner said, noting the two men are having dinner together this weekend.

He and Villaraigosa, however, do have very different styles and energies. In a column published last month, Los Angeles Times writer Jim Newton described Beutner as "mild to the point of dull."

"Certainly in contrast to lots of what's getting attention today, dull is not so bad," Beutner said. "You know, I have a pretty simple life. I have a good set of family values. I'm never going to get headlines for the wrong things so I'll take dull any time ... And for those who have heard me speak, it certainly sets low expectations."

In that same piece, Newton suggested Beutner and developer Rick Caruso would be Republicans' candidates of choice, even though Beutner is registered as a "decline to state" voter.

"Angelenos have a long and actually pretty proud tradition of an open race -- apolitical. People identify, I think, with Los Angeles and what needs to be done, not with political parties so I don't think that's going to be an issue at all," Beutner said of his voter registration.

"I'm an independent person so I've always registered that way. I choose to vote the person. I choose to vote who is best equipped to tackle the challenges of the job."