Mayor Garcetti came to LMU to speak about his Angeleno roots, the future of L.A. and his love for his job.
Mayor Eric Garcetti visited campus to talk about his passions as mayor of Los Angeles and his hopes for the future of the city. Garcetti arrived on campus shortly after meeting with officials to discuss the nearby Getty Fire on Oct. 29. Fernando J. Guerra, a professor of political science and Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies, and founding director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at LMU, led a Q&A session with Garcetti afterward.
Garcetti started off by thanking Mike Bonin, councilmember for the 11th district, for being in attendance. Both had visited the site of the Getty Fire shortly before arriving at LMU. Garcetti also took the time to thank the Los Angeles Fire Department and other departments for their role in helping to control the fire.
Garcetti expressed how proud he is of the city and the firefighters that helped with the fires. “Our firefighters have just put a heck of a lot of muscle into the last two days aided by firefighters from all over Southern California,” he said.
Garcetti, a fourth-generation Los Angeles native, spoke about his pride for the city, calling it the “western capital of the United States.” He also spoke about the innovation that has come out of Los Angeles and his hopes for the future. “More than any other big city I know, this is not a hierarchical city ... Los Angeles is one of these horizontal cities. It’s almost like our social opportunity almost mirrors the topography of our land. Wide-open, available and free,” said Garcetti.
Earlier in the day, Garcetti celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first email ever sent at UCLA. “The first email in the world was sent from Los Angeles, not up in Silicon Valley ... This is the kind of town where today multiple companies are designing equipment that will put human beings—the first human being—on Mars.”
Garcetti said that he wants to keep improving the city and encouraged students to think that way as well. “Some people see the world as it is and ask why; others see the world as it may be and ask why not ... That defines Los Angeles,” said Garcetti, quoting Robert Kennedy. Garcetti challenged the audience to think about the future they will build for Los Angeles and how they will do that in a “just” way.
Guerra led the Q&A session and started off by asking whether the wildfires are a new normal for Los Angeles. “What I would say is that it isn’t just an act of God, it was an act of human activity ... These swings of weather ... to me is one more [piece of] evidence of climate change,” said Garcetti.
Garcetti emphasized that 2020 will be the year of action against climate change. He stressed that because there have been so many fires in the past two years, they have wreaked havoc and cost taxpayers more money. “Go to a firefighter if you’re one of those last flat-earthers left who think climate change isn’t real and ask a firefighter [about climate change] ... In the last two years in this country we’ve paid what we have in the previous 27 years out of FEMA,” said Garcetti.
Guerro ended the Q&A with a discussion asking if Garcetti had considered running for president. “I decided that there was no way I could serve all of you ... If I were in Iowa when these fires broke out, it would tear me apart ... I want to finish this job,” said Garcetti. He left the session with advice to the next mayor, who he hopes will be a woman: work on the future of tomorrow, “even in the face of criticism.”