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L.A.’s election of rage

Episode Summary

A bitterly fought mayoral campaign. A bitter sheriff. Angry voters. Los Angeles is in for a hell of a 2022 election — we count the ways.

Episode Notes

On June 7, voters in Los Angeles will elect their preferred candidates in the primary. A couple of races — the mayor’s seat, L.A. County Sheriff, a possible recall of Dist. Atty. George Gascón — are earning national attention against a backdrop of voters angry with what they think is out-of-control crime and homelessness.

Today, we air a live panel on all this and more, originally held during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Read the full transcript here.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times columnist Erika D. Smith, L.A. Times mayor’s race reporter Julia Wick, and L.A. Times sheriff’s department reporter Alene Tchekmedyian.

More reading:

Rick Caruso’s campaign spending tops $23 million in L.A. mayor’s race

Column: Sheriff Villanueva acts like he’s above the law in L.A. County. What if he’s right?

First eyewitness account of Sheriff Villanueva lying in a cover-up revealed in filing


Episode Transcription

Intro Mux in 

Gustavo: The June 7 primary in Los Angeles… is gonna be interesting.

You’ve got billionaire developer Rick Caruso going off against congressional representative Karen Bass for mayor, with other candidates far behind. 

Crime and homelessness has voters considering a recall of the progressive district attorney. 

Meanwhile, the sheriff of LA County, Alex Villanueva is expected to easily win his reelection — so he’s spending his free time accusing L.A. Times reporters of criminal actions for reporting on his controversial department.

Uh, okay. 

BEAT drop 1

I’m Gustavo Arellano. You’re listening to THE TIMES, daily news from the LA Times. 

It’s Wednesday, May 4, 2022. 

Today…we’ve got a live panel I moderated at the L.A. Times Festival of Books a couple of weekends ago that’s as relevant as ever.

My colleagues Alene Tchekmedyian, Julia Wick and Erika D. Smith joined me to talk about LA’s local races that are getting national attention. Enjoy! 

Mux fade out 

Gustavo: Okay. So we are going to be talking about three, especially consequential races that are getting national attention that are happening here in Los Angeles, the mayor's race, which there's going to be a primary in June. The Sheriff's race, LA county Sheriff's race, which is going to happen as a primary in June and then something it's not an official race, but it's definitely involving politics, but a second recall effort against Ellie district attorney, George Gascon. So the question I'll ask for all of you to start, why are all these races getting national attention? What would like, what, what are the national implications that people are so interested in. So starting with Julia with the mayor's race.

Julia: Yeah. That's a great question. This is the first open mayoral primary in Los Angeles in nearly a decade. Garcetti was initially elected to office in 2013. So LA is the second biggest city in the country. I think there was a lot of kind of interest in what LA’s politics are going to look like. And particularly following the New York mayor election, where the city swung somewhat to the center. I think people are really looking to LA to see if some people are kind of saying this is actually a trend in larger American cities of left-wing cities or overwhelmingly democratic cities shifting to the center. And so it'll be interesting to see how the LA mayoral race plays out in that context.

Gustavo: Alene. Why is the Sheriff's race getting so much attention? Why are people so interested in this guy?

Alene: Well, Sheriff Villanueva is certainly a very interesting figure, but I would say that Sheriff's race is not actually getting that much national attention. Historically the Sheriff's race doesn't generate a lot of attention. People don't often really differentiate between, you know, the. PD and the LASD the Sheriff's department, or realize that the sheriff is actually an elected position. The LAPD obviously patrols city of LA and then the Sheriff's department patrols the unincorporated areas of the county and runs the jails and also patrols cities that don't have their own police departments. But the issues that are sort of at the forefront of the campaign, I think are very much intersecting with the mayoral race and the rise in violent crime and homicides and the exploding homelessness crisis that's happening.

Gustavo: That's one of the interesting things with all of the reasons we're going to talk. There's so many intersections on each other that in some ways you can't even extricate. Any of them. And at the end, it all kind of funnels into what's going on with George Gascon.

Erika: Yeah, the district attorney's race, it's like it is getting national attention, I think, uh, much like the mayor's race. George Gascon is facing a recall. They're still collecting signatures now. We'll know in a few weeks whether or not he's actually going to face a recall election, but it's part of that larger trend about whether. Cities, more democratic leaning cities, are going to go from what have been typically liberal policies, you know, progressive criminal justice reform. Looking at, you know, more of the roots of crime to more of this kind of tough on crime policies, where we're returning to locking more people up, doing more kind of heavy policing in communities in response to an uptick in homicides, which we've seen, not just in LA, but nationwide and cities across the nation. And also some other crimes, which we can talk about a little bit later, but I think it really is just one of those things that people see it as a bellwether race, whether or not he's recalled much like a similar race against the district attorney in San Francisco. So, yeah, exactly. So it's it, you know, this race does have some consequences as far as how people are going to perceive the, the life of kind of these more criminal justice reform policies that have been backed by Democrats.

Gustavo: How consequential of an election year is 2022 in Los Angeles? Does it compare to other years, like say 93 when Richard Riordan was elected or even going back to 69 when Tom Bradley ran against Sam Yardi?

Julia: I mean, it's hard to say that anything is up to 69 or 73 with Tom Bradley and Sam Yardil. But I think this is a very consequential election year in Los Angeles, both because of what I mentioned before about the first open mayoral primary and nearly a decade, but also the majority of LA city council seats are up for election this year. There's eight city council races. Five incumbents are up for reelection. And three of those incumbents are in potentially competitive races, which is a really big deal in LA city council. It's really, really rare for an incumbent to be unseated in LA city council. And it's rare for them to even have a competitive race

Gustavo: Alene and Erica, you know, in the DA's, you know, the possible D.A recall, then the Sheriff's rates. You also have this, what I see, like the rise of at least the so-called liberals in Los Angeles getting angry and maybe voting for Villanueva, maybe voting for Gascon.. And like where people are noticing, like is LA, which is supposed to be this progressive beacon, is LA actually turning conservative? Are they going to turn conservative in this election? What do you think?

Alene: I think Villanueva certainly hopes so with his platform., In terms of, how historic this race is, I think that, you know, we're coming off a very historic race from 2018 when he was first elected on a groundswell of support from progressive voters. He really courted democratic voters and it was a time in LA where people were very fed up with the rhetoric coming from the Trump administration. And so Villanueva in a way of a kind of positioned himself as like a anti-Trump person that was going to kick ice out of the jails and not cooperate with immigration authorities. But now he's sort of very much shifted to the right with all of the issues happening locally.  Sort of trying to position himself as the law and order candidate. And he's been increasing how many hidden weapon permits that he's giving out people he's, that's like really exploded. And so he's sort of courting the other side for this election.

Gustavo: Do you buy that he's actually conservative in the sense, because he did run to try to get progressives and a lot of progressives voted for him in 2018, but now almost all of those progressive are like, nah, you tricked us, man.

Alene: Right. So he made a series of decisions very quickly when he took office in 2018, that really upset a lot of those voters. The first and kind of biggest one was when he reinstated a deputy that had been fired for domestic violence and, um, stalking allegations. And then during the internal investigation he was accused of lying about those things. And so that was like one of his first moves in office. And so people were really shocked by that. And then, you know, there's been a series of scandals since then that have turned off the progressive voters. 

Gustavo: Erica, you mentioned with, uh, what Gascon is facing as a bellwether. Just of politics in general but also what's going on in Southern California, but especially Los Angeles. Do you want to expand on that?

Erika: Yeah, I mean, I think it's kind of interesting. I was laughing a little bit at your comment about whether LA is going to be conservative, maybe baby, because I lived in Indiana for 10 years. So I think the conversation of conservative, air quotes, is very different, but I mean, I do think that even if he is recalled, I don't think he's going to be replaced with somebody who's going to be so far to the right that, you know, we're going to go back to even potentially. Pre 92, the kind of policies that we had in part, because we just don't have the crime rate that we did. There's a lot of political rhetoric about homicide rates and crime rates, but, you know, we're nowhere near the peak in the nineties. And that's just a fact. And so, and I also think that the public in LA and in most of liberal California has learned some lessons from the nineties and from the sixties and that, you know, while we may go back to taking a harder look at some of the criminal justice reforms that have been put into place, whether that's prop 47, whatever. I don't think that the majority of people are like, yes, we need to lock up people the way that we did in the nineties. And I don't see this big return. I think what you're going to see is, and I think this is why this is this bellwether, is that whether this kind of political rhetoric actually works to get people elected. You know, it doesn't necessarily mean. What changes after they get elected is going to be drastic, but it gets them in office.

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Erika: And so I think that's that kind of gradual kind of shift and clawing away at some of those reforms that have been traditionally supported by progressivess.

Mux bump

Gustavo: More from our live panel at the LA Times Festival of Books...after the break.

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Gustavo: Let's talk about the mayor's race, Julia. You know, that I think of the three is probably the most rambunctious, to put it lightly. Who are the candidates? Who are the favorites? What are the scandals?  Or the cheese chisme as we say in Spanish.

Julia: So according to the most recent LA times poll that came out a couple of weeks ago, Rick Caruso, who is a billionaire real estate developer, you might know him from the Grove or the American. Uh,

Gustavo: Or here USC. tto. 

Julia: That too. . Yes. I forgot where we were. And Karen Bass are in somewhat of a dead heat for first place. Caruso in that poll was at 24%, Bass was at 23% and 40% of likely voters remain undecided. So there's still a lot of room for things to move, but they have really kind of gotten to the front of the pack. City Councilman Kevin Deleon who is at 8% in the prior pole had gone down to 6% in this poll. So he's really kind of a far third at the moment. Bass had been really the early real frontrunner in the race. It seemed like she might have a pretty easy path to becoming LA's next mayor. She's a Congresswoman with a really long history in the city, came up with a community organizer, founded Community Coalition South LA. Is a physician's assistant; like very, very long history, particularly in south LA. And Caruso, his entrance into the race has really upended what the race had looked like before he got it. And when it was all long time, public officials, um, he has put an amount of money into the race that really has no precedent in LA politics. He still hasn't gotten close to Bloomberg in New York city numbers, but, um, We are still six weeks out from the primary and have many months to the November general, and he's already put $16 million into his campaign. His slogan is Crusoe can clean up that way. And his big themes, he's really been hitting on crime homelessness and city hall corruption. And Bass’ campaign is a bit more nuanced. And I think in a lot of ways that's hurt her ability to really get. Kind of instant traction because she's giving more nuanced messages. She's not just pounding the same three facts all the time.

Gustavo: Erika? .

Erika: I was going to add one thing. I think with Caruso we saw his poll numbers shoot up after the debate that he did here actually at USC that I co-moderated. And I think part of that was like the bar in some ways was so low for him. He's like an unknown quantity. I mean, we know like the Grove, we know USC, we know he was on the police commission, but you know, it was unclear. That night, whether he could actually hold his own on a stage and he got attacked from all sides, you know, and he was able to, to Perry and to make his points. And I think that that's part, I mean, other than the fact that he's spending so much money, but I do think the fact that he was able to back it up and actually able to be able to hold his own as a political candidate, I think is also leading to that uptick.

Julia: Absolutely. And the other thing I'd say, actually that I thought was really interesting about that debate. Cause I feel like it's a bit of a metaphor for both of their candidacies is Crusoe was constantly attacked and by debate rules, he was allowed 30 seconds to rebut every time he was attacked. And he claimed that rebuttal on every single attack on things that maybe you would have otherwise let go. He strategically chose to fight back on each one, which meant that he seemingly talked more than anyone else during the debate and other people, he would, you know, then attack someone else in one of his attacks and then it would go to them. And you ended up with a lot of the men on stage attacking each other. And Bass didn't really engage in any of those attacks. She really has framed herself as a coalition builder and because of that, I do think we heard from her the least during that debate.

Erika: Absolutely. And she, you know, she was funny because she was actually at the center of the state. And so the, the, the dynamic was, is all these men fighting over top of her. And she's like shorter than all of them for the most part. And so it was really interesting to see. And half the time she'd just be, you know, a lot of times she wasn't on camera, but she was just shaking her head or she’d kind of smile and just go and roll her eyes. And it would always be…a few times she did jump back in and it was always when things clearly had gotten to the point where it was so ridiculous that she felt like, like, I think it took her like five times for Crusoe to insult people who have served in elected office for her to be like, all right. You know, why are you attacking us for public service basically. But it took a while and she strategically didn't engage Caruso. So he had more time. She was very aware of that. The other men on stage are just like, we're going after him. And that's what we're doing. 

Gustavo: No, they were desperate, cause it's like, oh, sorry, sorry Mike Feuer, Joe Buscaino; y'all ain't doing anything at all. Alene, what do you think?

Alene: So in terms of the Sheriff's race, we have sheriff Innova, who's raising the most money by far of all the candidates. He has the most name recognition at this point. He's constantly in the news. So there's not really a candidate who's emerging really as an obvious front runner that could force them into a runoff. It's a crowded field though. There's like eight people challenging him. So that might just split up the vote enough to force a runoff. But it's just really hard to predict who is going to be that person.

Gustavo: If Villanueva gets more than 50% is, uh, like he wins?

Alene:  He wins outright. 

Gustavo: Oh, wow. Given that there's so many candidates and he does have such name recognition for better, for worse. What do you think's going to happen?

Alene: I really don't know, but, um…

Gustavo: Reporters aren't allowed to prognosticate, sorry. Let me ask it this way. How do you think the, you know, Villanueva has been, his administration has been very controversial. You have done a lot of great stories. For instance, there was a story about, and also the podcast about, how the Sheriff's department pulls over Latinos bicyclist at a far higher rate than any other, uh, folks. But how do you think he is campaigning right now? Uh, in terms of  trying to win?

Alene: He is doing a lot of events. He's having town halls in cities that he does not patrol. And so like a few days ago he was in Santa Monica. He was in Burbank. Recently. These are cities where people are going to be voting for the sheriff, but they're not patrolled by the Sheriff's department. So he's really trying to reach out to these different segments. 

Gustavo: Why do you think he's doing that? Of course, probably the most notorious example of that was when sheriff Villanueva went to Venice in, was it may June homeless encampments and was wearing a cowboy hat.

Alene: Right.

Gustavo: What's his strategy with that?

Alene: So he has been at war with the other elected leaders of the city and the county and saying that their so-called woke policies are reating this homeless crisis and that he is the person that can clean it up. So he wanted to Venice, which is patrolled by LAPD and says that only I can clean this up with the Sheriff's department because I'm an elected position and I have the authority to do this, whereas the LAPD reports to the city council and the mayor, and they're not allowing the LAPD to, to clean up this problem. He's trying to do the same thing in Hollywood recently. He said that he's going to go into Hollywood, just the way that he went into Venice. And then actually within the last couple of weeks, he also gave the Metro board and ultimatum. The whole network of LA county's buses and trains are  patrolled by, you know, three different agencies, the LAPD, the Sheriff's department and Long Beach PD. And so he came in and told the Metro board, listen, if you guys don't give me the entire contract, I'm going to pull out my 300 deputies from patrolling our segment of the trains and buses. And so now come June or July, the Metro board is scrambling like, okay, what do we do? How are we going to be able to patrol these areas if the sheriff department pulls out their resources. 

Gustavo: So I'll try to Julia really quickly. You've covered LA politics for a while now, what, what kind of character, how does Villanueva compare to the Pantheon of LA characters?

Julia: I think he's a pretty colorful one. If you go far back in LA politics, there's a lot of colorful characters, but I think the level to which he has publicly kind of warred with other elected officials, I think is uncommon in more recent LA politics. Although I think LA politics among elected officials has gotten quite a bit nastier than it had been at least for the last decade or so. Like there's several members of city council who pretty openly seemed to really dislike each other. And I don't know if that has to do with how much uglier the broader discourse has gotten. But I'm interested in whether those things are correlated. Erika, you have a thought? 

Erika: I was just thinking about that. The ugliness I'm thinking right now, Mark Ridley-Thomas has been suspended from his seat and her Wesson is now in a seat. They don't agree on that. So even, you know, even with the same community and people arguing that there's that conflict to it. But, you know, it's interesting. I do think that it has to do with the broader discourse going on in society, because I do think even if you look at public comment, a lot of the meetings it's gotten more, rougher and coarser I think than it has in the past. So I just think that for any number of reasons, People feel this, this election season coming up is important. And you know, it's probably bolstered by the strong opinions on all sides. I think that people have.

Julia: On city council, public comment, I will say there have always been very, very outlandish people who sometimes bring costumes, a lot of cursing that is not new. But I do think, and I'm all for accessibility, but I do think the accessibility of being able to call it versus actually having to go to city hall perhaps has brought in who's willing to make the effort to participate.

Erika: That's interesting. I can totally see that

Gustavo: Democracy. I love it. Erika, with George Gascon. What's interesting to me about Gascon is that this is someone who won just in 2020.  He was able to, when it gets incumbent, Jackie Lacey, he won with a good percentage of the vote, but almost immediately there's people who wanted to recall him. And a lot of it came from his own prosecutors who just were against it. Where do you think that antagonism against Gascon came from? 

Erika: I mean, I think some of that has to do with the fact that if we take our minds back to 2020, I mean, we're coming out of George Floyd, we're coming…. we're in the pandemic. People are very much, the general public cares a lot about criminal justice reform and black lives matter and you name it. And, you know, Gascon is in this wave,  he's riding this demand for criminal justice reform for more mental health workers on the street, even less people being locked up and for longer. Because of the pandemic we have more people being released from jail and prison. We have just more of an emphasis on other ways of dealing with crime but we all know that that didn't last very long. I mean, we see where we are now. And so I think that some of that vitriol we see directed towards Gascon has, has to do with the fact that we're as the general public. We're just not as adamant about criminal justice reform as we were two years ago. So it's kind of a chicken area kind of thing. But I do think that it it's feeding on each other. It's and I do think that also just seeing the. In homicides and upticks and other and other crimes, very visible crime, such as some of the follow home robberies that we've been discussing lately. And what happened during the holiday season last year. So I think there's been a number of things that have occurred. Together. And I think, but I do think it's presented this political opportunity for people who've hated, frankly, the criminal justice reform movement and have wanted to go back for whatever reason, to more of a law and order standpoint that this was like this perfect storm of opportunity for them. 

Gustavo: And there was a recall attempt against Gasconn last year that just petered out. But this one really seems to have a lot of legs to it. 

Erika: Yeah, because,  I mean, last year it was that recall election, if I'm remembering correctly was before all the smash and grab robberies, it was before, we were still stuck in the house for the most part, you know, we weren't out in about. We have to talk about too, how homelessness kind of intersects with this public safety argument. You know, when we were all stuck in the house, we weren't seeing, you know, the encampments that have built up over the last couple of years for various different reasons. Public safety and safety and crime, these things have all become more intertwined as we've emerged from the pandemic bubble. And we'd been more out and about and other crimes have had upticks. So I think it's just all about timing.

Gustavo: And one of the main electeds who has been going after Gascon has been Villanueva.

Alene: Yeah, guest's gone is one of being away of his favorite punching bags. He blames a lot of the increases on crime on Gascon, which the uptake in violent crime is something that we've seen across the country. It's not unique to LA. And in fact, when you looked at one of my colleagues wrote a story about the filing rates of violent crimes. And it turns out Gascon has filed the same percentage of felony violent cases as Jackie Lacey. He's filed a lot less misdemeanors, but in terms of violent cases, it's very similar. But one thing that is different is that the LAPD and the Sheriff's department have solved less cases. So their clearance rates have, for homicides, have dramatically dropped in the last couple of years.

Gustavo: What's the reason for it according to Villanueva?

Alene: According to Villanueva, he's lost a lot of his detectives due to people who are retiring and then there's a hiring freeze from the board of supervisors that he's saying he can't fill those positions. So he's saying he lost like a quarter of his detectives, a lot of them, he says, were homicide detectives. For him. It always comes back to the budget and he's being defunded and the board of supervisors adequately giving him enough money to do these things. But his budget has pretty much stayed the same. There isn't really like a whole lot of defunding going on, so…

Gustavo: We all know that the big issues, not just in LA, but really Southern California, are crime, homelessness, also housing affordability. But what's one issue in the respect of races or just in any of the races that you think is being underplayed by us at the LA times, or just the media in general that you think is going to be sort of the wild card, maybe.

Erika: For all of those reasons you just mentioned, those three top reasons, I think there's a lot of, for lack of a better term, public anger at things. I guess in addressing all three of those issues, you are in theory addressing the anger. I think in, in everybody's quest to talk to voters. I think that all of the candidates and all of the races are really underestimating how upset people are for various different reasons about the quality of life in LA. And I don't hear any candidate really like talking to people in that way. I guess, you know, Crusoe, I imagine, believes he is by talking about how the city needs to be cleaned up. 

Gustavo: Yeah. Julia did that article about when Carusso says no one feels safe in Los Angeles anymore. You actually went to talk to people.

Julia: Yeah, so we did that article after the debate that Erica moderated Crusoe during that debate there were quite a few pretty hyperbolic statements saying that every single person in every corner of the city feels unsafe walking out their door and also saying that crime in Los Angeles is worse than it's ever been, which is just not, not at all true. You know, it was much worse than in the nineties. The rates don't compare. And we really wanted to get a sense of how people….cause a lot of people do feel unsafe. You know, another kind of in, during that same part of the debate, each candidate was asked on a scale of one to 10, how safe they felt. And Karen Bass said 10 out of 10 and quite a few people I've talked to like out and about have mentioned that as something that turned them off because they felt like it was a bit out of touch to say 10 out of 10. She did, by the way, acknowledge that a lot of people in the city do feel unsafe. But, it’s kind of an interesting thing of like, some people thought it was a bit Pollyanna-ish, So yeah, we four reporters fanned out to all different corners of the city to just interview dozens of people about whether or not. They feel safe in LA and we got a much more nuanced picture.  Some people feel really unsafe and really scared. One woman I talked to who has a works at our family flower shop in van Nuys, you know, crime has been something that has shaped their worldview. They had to get extra security for Valentine's day. Cause they were so worried about being robbed, following the smash and grabs. And I think she told me it was something like $1,500. That was a really big amount for their store. Other people we talked to, you know, really weren’t that worried at all, they feel like it hasn't shaped their lives at all. Um, it really kind of depends where you are in the city and also on the person. But I don't think it's fair to say that everyone in the city feels that unsafe.

Erika: Yeah, no, for sure.

Gustavo: I do think though, that there is this level of anger that politicians, especially on the democratic party, are really surprised at…and I do think Alene, one politician, at least on the bigger level, that does get this is sheriff Villanueva. And not only is he channeling it, he's gleefully doing it.

Alene: Yeah, we had, uh, he filmed a video where he went on the train and talked to people in regular clothes, not in his sheriff uniform and really seized on what he saw that day. Like people using the elevators as a, what he called a mobile port-a-potty or something. And so, he's really been leaning into that.

Gustavo: He really thinks that’s going to be a winning strategy? 

Alene: It seems like it. Yeah.

Erika: Well, it's interesting because he did that in Venice. That was the whole thing about him going out to that homeless encampment in Venice. That was, around the time when Mike Bonnen, the councilmember, was getting a lot of grief. I remember a specific Councilman a meeting when, when Councilman bond and was pushing back on something, it was very miffed. And he was saying about how, he's unsure whether Angelinos want to solve homelessness or they want to solve homeless encampments. And, and to me that was so clear because he didn't get the anger like that people were just very frustrated about having what's on their streets basically. And like right or wrong. I'm not saying the way the public feels as good or bad. I'm just saying that it was a calculation that I think Bonin  didn't get. And I think that a lot of members of the city council didn't get either, uh, as far as what people actually want. And I do think you're right. I mean, I think that's why the sheriff got such, you know, people in Venice were happy he was out there, even if he didn't really do a whole lot. But like, I think that he, people were happy because they felt like he was doing something. 

Julia: Going back to your wildcard question. And Erika’ anger answer. To me, the anger is also not just the wild card issue, but it's the wild card itself of how people are going to act because of that anger. Like, I feel like we don't totally know how it's going to play out. We all know it's going to be this major factor. Cause there’s anger on all sides.

Mux in

Julia: Because like…people on the far left are really, really angry too. I think it'll be really interesting over the next couple of months to see how that….where and how that boils over.

Beat swell

Gustavo: More...after the break.

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Gustavo: I'm gonna ask one more question for our panelists. And this is just more, you know, the journalist in me. How…given that there is a primary coming and given there's always just so, you know, there's so many candidates running and there are so many issues running. How do you choose the stories that you want to cover politically-wise?

Erika: I mean, to me, it's more like, I think we all can write about the politics of stuff. And if you like politics, it's like a soap opera, right. Because it really is a soap opera, But I do think what's most interesting is how those politics and how that public policy really affects people. Right. I mean, some people in public office might be in it just for the rush of saying I won or for getting this passed or whatever. But I do think most, I would like to think a lot of the people that are in office, at least at some point in their life, when they ran for office were like, yeah, I want to do this to actually do some good. So I think it's up to incumbent upon us to show the good, the bad, the ugly about how public policy affects real people, but also kind of reflect back what we see in the public to those elected officials. If they don't get it or they don't see it. And I think that that's kind of how I try to pick my columns are topics that I write about. 

Gustavo: Julia?

Julia: Yeah, that's a great question. And certainly something that I think we're always trying to figure out and also get a fair amount of flack for what we do choose to cover. On my beat, which is city, I'd say half of my time is just putting out fires. So breaking news stuff, you know, this is happening. We're jumping on this, we call it a daily story. If it's a story that you found out about that day, and you're writing that day to go in the paper the next day. And I usually end up with like two, sometimes three dailies a week on my beat. So beyond that, it can be harder to kind of be strategic about what the long-term stuff is. But we try and plan and kind of think about a, what are we hearing from people like, you know, we're out talking to voters, we're also talking to all these candidates, what are kind of the common themes, the common threads. And then really also making sure that when this election comes, what will people want to have known about? Where can we do our service as the paper of record in the city and informing people?

Gustavo: Alene?

Alene: I have gotten a fair amount of criticism for what the sheriff likes to say are only negative stories about him. but I like to choose my stories, do accountability stories and because there's so much controversy within the Sheriff's department, I'm always hearing a lot of things that may shed negative light on the department. But you gotta pursue those stories because they're important and people care about them. If someone's committing misconduct, people need to know voters need to know. So accountability, stories and stories that can kind of get some impact or kind of how I approached the beat.

Gustavo: Thank you so much.

mux in audience applause in

Gustavo: Thank you so much for coming to the festival books. Please do subscribe to The Times podcast and The Times publication. We appreciate it. Thank you so much.


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Gustavo: And that’s it for this episode of THE TIMES, daily news from the LA Times

Big thanks to our L.A. Times Festival of Books partners for putting on such a great event. And hey, we actually have another live event coming up later this month…I’ll be moderating a debate between some of the top mayoral candidates with my other audio familia over at KCRW  and I want to know what you want to know. Call ‪(619) 800-0717‬ and leave a voicemail with your questions for the mayoral candidates — I just might ask it.

Our show is produced by Shannon Lin, Denise Guerra, Kasia Brousalian, David Toledo, Ashlea Brown, and Angel Carreras. Our editorial assistants are Madalyn Amato and Carlos De Loera. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editor is Kinsee Morlan. Our executive producers are Jazmin Aguilera and Shani Hilton. And our theme music is by Andrew Eapen. 

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I'm Gustavo Arellano. We'll be back tomorrow with all the news and desmadre. Gracias.