Government

Mulling Presidential Bid, LA Mayor Visits Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The mayor of Los Angeles — who also happens to be a possible contender for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2020 — hit the pavement downtown late Thursday afternoon in order to take the pulse of a city and a state that plays a pivotal role in national politics.

Mayor Eric Garcetti made Youngstown his first stop on a tour throughout Ohio in what he says is an effort to galvanize the Democratic Party behind congressional candidates in the midterm elections this November.

“I’m here first and foremost to elect good people in Ohio,” Garcetti told reporters just before he toured the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Techn Block No. 5 building. “Ohioans have a stake in who gets elected in California, and Californians have a stake in who gets elected in Ohio.”

Garcetti has said earlier that he was considering a bid for the presidency, and told reporters Thursday that he would have a better idea on his plans in two or three months. For now, though, he said that the mid-term elections are more important.

“I truly am focused on the elections now,” Garcetti said. “Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot this year, but a Congress that enables him is.”

Garcetti has made other stops this year in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – also pivotal and early election states that will prove decisive in 2020.

Still, he admitted that an enthusiastic reception in Ohio could push him to a decision to run. “I do want to have that conversation,” Garcetti said. “There is a real hunger out there right now for people who can address people’s everyday problems and who aren’t in the partisan fight that can consume us in Washington.”

Garcetti met with party leaders in Cleveland later Thursday and is scheduled to give an address before the Cleveland City Club today. Later today, the mayor is set to travel to Akron, where he will visit the I Promise School – a  joint project of Akron Public Schools and The LeBron James Family Foundation – and then to Columbus, before heading to Cincinnati for a tour an a roundtable on local transit on Saturday.

The mayor related that California has seen its share of auto plant closings and has more in common with Ohio than many would think.

Moreover, the Trump administration has been ineffective in helping ordinary Americans improve their status in life, as wage growth remains stagnant in an otherwise prosperous economy, he said.

“The tax cut has mostly gone to stock buybacks for CEOs who are earning $30 million to $40 million,” he said.

Tariffs, meanwhile, have hurt farmers by closing off international markets, while developers are wrestling with the higher price of steel.

“And, internationally, I think he’s been really threatening,” Garcetti said of Trump.

While making such a leap from City Hall to the White House is a long shot – no president has ever done it before – Garcetti said that he would encourage other mayors to run, whether or not he decides to seek the nomination.

“Mayors are among the last left who are doing things,” Garcetti said. “We’re honest about our problems and our challenges – we’re not perfect,” he said, citing the city’s struggles to find adequate housing, health care, and jobs for its residents.

“But, Washington isn’t doing anything—this has been the least effective Congress we’ve seen in 164 years,” he said.

The Los Angeles mayor toured the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Tech Block No. 5 building, which was renovated to accommodate additive manufacturing businesses. There, he observed the strides companies are making to create an advanced manufacturing ecosystem in downtown Youngstown.

Garcetti then walked with Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown along West Federal Street, taking in some of the revitalization efforts downtown. The group ducked in for a brief visit at Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology, before stopping in to The Starting Lineup, a barbershop on the ground floor in Realty Tower.

“I think its good that Youngstown is on the map,” Brown said of Garcetti’s visit. “When I started as mayor, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just the three ‘Cs’ [Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati].”

Brown said that he was honored to host the mayor for his brief stop, and allowed him to show off parts of the city.

“We’re doing some great things,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to spotlight what we’re doing – not just statewide, but nationally.”

Pictured: Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti toured the Youngstown Business Incubator Thursday.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.