Garcetti takes office as LA’s 42nd mayor

During his inauguration party at Grand Park yesterday, techno musician Moby introduced Eric Garcetti as the “coolest mayor in the history of Los Angeles.”

History might suggest otherwise, and Garcetti himself took a decidedly low-key approach during his inauguration last night on the steps of City Hall. In a symbolic gesture that echoed the new mayor’s campaign theme of being “a man of the people,” Garcetti, was sworn in by 13-year-old Kenia Castillo of Highland Park. She’s the daughter of a janitor who volunteered on his campaign.

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The 42-year-old Garcetti, a San Fernando Valley native and the son of a former L.A. District Attorney, said he’ll focus on the nuts and bolts of running a city that matter most to residents: pot hole filling, street paving, tree trimming and the like. He also vowed to bring technological savvy to City Hall, cut business taxes and to make city offices more user-friendly for residents and businesses alike.

Garcetti also noted his mixed heritage, as he did throughout the campaign: Jewish on his mother’s side, Mexican on his father’s.

Garcetti’s speech wasn’t all business. At one point, he waxed poetic about Los Angeles, a city that he says epitomizes American optimism.

“For so many of us, Los Angeles has been the last and the best frontier. A place where difference and diversity aren’t castigated, they’re celebrated, long before the courts rule in their favor: A place where immigrants and idealists and innovators find a horizon as wide and as open and limitless as the human mind itself. A place where opportunity practically hangs from the trees and hard work and enterprise are all you need to share its fruits. A place where you can’t be pessimistic even if you wanted to be. Because in the words of Wallace Stegner, this is the native home of hope. Let’s face it, if you called Central Casting and asked them to send you the American Dream. They’d have no choice but to send right here, to Los Angeles.”

Garcetti’s optimism will come in handy in the months and years ahead.

The city is facing a potential $100 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year that begins today. And a recent report found that L.A. County’s homeless population grown 16 percent in the past two years, to 58,000 people. A number of important transportation and infrastructure projects will demand stewardship, including upgrading the L.A. Convention Center, widening runways at LAX and moving forward on a Westside subway extension.

Garcetti, the city’s 42nd mayor, says he’ll spend part of his first day on the job meeting with people randomly selected from emails sent to his transition team.

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