Who will replace Eric Garcetti as LA’s interim mayor?

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Mayor Garcetti speaks to the press about the homeless crisis along the boardwalk in Venice Beach, California, June 29, 2021. On July 9, Garcetti confirmed that President Biden nominated him as U.S. Ambassador to India. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez for KCRW.

President Joe Biden nominated LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to be the next U.S. Ambassador to India. He still needs to be confirmed by the Senate, but the scramble to replace him has begun.

An interim mayor will need to serve the remainder of his term before the 2022 mayoral election.

Traditionally when a mayor leaves town, the City Council president (currently Nury Martinez) becomes acting mayor. “But that's usually seen as a short-term solution not intended to be in place for what could be almost a full year, if not longer,” says Jon Regardie, who’s been covering Garcetti’s nomination for LA Magazine.

Since the Senate confirmation process will likely take weeks or months, Regardie says the City Council has plenty of time to figure out how it’ll fill Garcetti’s void. But it could get messy. Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Nury Martinez have already expressed interest in running for mayor in 2022, and Regardie says Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kevin de Leon may throw their hats in the ring too.

“The last thing any of these individuals are going to want is for someone else to get a leg up by serving as acting mayor,” he says. 

Former LA City Councilmember and LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina has an idea: Appoint someone who’s not interested in running in 2022.

“The last thing that we need is someone who instead of working on the issues that are significant to the city is running for office at the same time,” she says. “You need a problem solver.”

Other names being floated include former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, and City Councilman Paul Krekorian.

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