In part, the re-election Wednesday of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whom Hillary Clinton once considered as a vice presidential running mate, could be interpreted as a sign of consolidation within the Democratic Party. When half the ballots had been counted, The Los Angeles Times reported that Garcetti, the city’s first Jewish mayor, had locked in a second term by winning 80 percent of the vote against 10 challengers, a landslide result that was largely expected.
And yet, who really knows what this actually means or augers for the Democratic party during Trump’s presidency—whether this consolidation will help or hurt the Democratic Party outside its areas of core strength remains to be seen. What we can take away from Garcetti’s run as L.A.’s mayor is that his multicultural success story—his familial lineage is Mexican, Italian, and Jewsh—has spoken volumes to two large and powerful majority coalitions who share a broad set of values. Los Angeles is home to 600,000 Jews, the second-highest population in the U.S. (next to New York); Latinos make up nearly half of the population in L.A.
At 46, Garcetti is L.A.’s youngest mayor and only the second Mexican-American in the last century to serve in that role. (Garcetti’s Democratic predecessor, Antonio Villaraigosa, is currently running for governor.) “I have an Italian last name, and I’m half Mexican and half Jewish,” Garcetti said during his first mayoral bid in 2013, when he was a Councilman. At an event with rabbis at City Hall that year, Garcetti wore a yarmulke and sang Hanukkah songs in multiple languages. “Toda la familia,” he said during a photo op.
Here’s a bit about Garcetti’s background, from The Los Angeles Times:
Garcetti has Mexican roots through his father, former Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti. Eric’s grandfather, Salvador Garcetti, was born in Mexico and grew up in Boyle Heights. Salvador was brought to the United States as a baby after his father, Massimo Garcetti, a judge who had emigrated from Italy, was hanged during the Mexican Revolution that began in 1910, Garcetti says. Eric’s grandmother, Juanita Iberri, one of 19 children in a family that migrated from Sonora, Mexico, was born in Arizona.
On his mother’s side, Garcetti is a descendant of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Poland and the Ukraine. They too settled in Boyle Heights in the early 20th century. Garcetti’s maternal grandfather, Harry Roth, turned the family’s Los Angeles clothing business, Louis Roth & Co., into a major national brand of high-end suits for men.
Eric Garcetti and seven relatives now oversee the Roth Family Foundation. On its website, it has reported giving $5.9 million in grants since 2000 to hundreds of organizations, among them the PUENTE Learning Center, Planned Parenthood LA and the Silverlake Conservatory of Music.
*This article was published in the Tablet on March 8, 2017.