A Republican state assemblyman who represents Camarillo backed Eric Garcetti for mayor of Los Angeles on Friday, one of a group of military service members and veterans to give their endorsement to the city councilman.
The announcement at an event in East Los Angeles was one of the most overt pitches by Garcetti -- a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve -- tied to his military service.
Assemblyman Jeff Gorell talked about serving with Garcetti, calling him a "shipmate" and a "man of character."
Gorell joined about a dozen military veterans at Cinco Puntos, an East Los Angeles monument to service members from all wars. He said Garcetti "has an instinctive ability to connect with people, regardless of where they are from or what their background is."
"All these skills -- as a listener, as a communicator, as a consensus builder and as a leade r- -will allow him to be a champion for this city," said Gorell, who served two tours in combat zones in Afghanistan and the Mideast.
Also reiterating his support for Garcetti at the rally was state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach), a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, who had previously endorsed the candidate. Lieu called Garcetti a public servant "who is in this for all the right reasons."
Garcetti retold the story of his grandfather, Salvador, who came to Los Angeles from Mexico as a small child and earned his citizenship 30 years later after serving in the Army during World War II. He said hearing his grandfather's stories inspired him to join the Naval Reserve.
Garcetti has said he would like to continue his commitment to the Reserve, which is due to expire later this year, even if he is elected mayor in the May 21 runoff with City Controller Wendy Greuel. Reserve duty typically requires more than 40 days of training per year, though he could go on a modified status that would give him more time away from his military obligations.
The Hollywood-area councilman promised to appoint a "veterans coordinator" to help assure that veterans in Los Angeles get housing, medical care and other services due them. The city already has a coordinator to help veterans find jobs.
Garcetti said Friday he is uncertain whether he would merely elevate the current veteran job coordinator to the more comprehensive post, or create a new position. He said the veterans coordinator would serve within the mayor's office.
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