Below is an excerpt from an article written by staff writer Rick Orlov about Emanuel Pleitez' experience and personal story, his grassroots campaign, and his policy priorities as mayor. The article was published in the Los Angeles Daily News on February 9. 2013.
"It has been a hurdle for Emanuel Pleitez to be taken seriously in the race for mayor.
At 30, Pleitez already has an impressive resume. He's been a personal aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, worked on the economic recovery in the Obama administration, held an executive position in technology firm and ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress.
Now he's set his sights on the top job in City Hall.
Pleitez decided last year to enter the race for mayor of Los Angeles, going up against a more experienced field that includes Controller Wendy Greuel, City Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, who have raised millions of dollars for the race, as well as attorney Kevin James, who is being promised support from Republican independent expenditure committees.
"I thought the folks running were not addressing the real issues," said Pleitez, adding that dissatisfied voters would be willing to look at someone new.
"This city wants someone with progressive principles, but is willing to be serious about finances and ready to face tough issues. The sad part is no one else was willing to do it. If someone else would have jumped in, I wouldn't be running."
But Pleitez had a hard time getting to the point where he was considered a serious candidate.
For months, Pleitez and his supporters -- he has a core group of 30 people who are committed to his campaign -- demonstrated outside forums from which he was excluded until he was able to pass the $150,000 threshold of donations making him eligible for matching funds from the city Ethics Commission.
"It was a very difficult time to try to run without any endorsements, without any institutional support and all of the political folks saying you don't have a shot," Pleitez said. "Then, I had to convince 1,700 people to give me money. That's with average donations of $124."
Since then, he has been invited to nearly every candidate forum and said it has become easier to raise money. With city matching funds, he said his campaign will have $600,000 to spend and he hopes to be able to get up to $1 million.
While at the forums, Pleitez has shared his life story of having been raised by a single mother, growing up in south and east Los Angeles, avoiding a life in gangs and graduating from Stanford University.
"I was one of the lucky ones," he said. "I played sports and my coaches would drive me home, so I didn't have to walk past the gang areas."
He was able to get a scholarship to Stanford, where he studied urban affairs and planned to return to Los Angeles to become a teacher, until he was urged to consider politics.
Pleitez came back and worked as a personal assistant for Villaraigosa when he was running for City Council. It was a job that entailed being with the candidate every waking moment -- time he used to learn what it takes to be successful in politics and public policy.
"That was a graduate course in politics," Pleitez said. "It was eye opening. I took inventory of every call he was making or took to understand who influenced who, who took his time and why."
After that, Pleitez went to work at Goldman Sachs where he saw the crash of the stock market.
"There were people who had been in the business for decades, and they couldn't make sense of what was happening," Pleitez said.
With the first election of President Barack Obama, Pleitez said he was called by officials in the Treasury Department to work on the transition team.
He returned to Los Angeles where he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress. After the election he was asked to return to Washington, D.C., to serve as an assistant to Paul Volcker, who was heading Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
It was while in Washington that he met his wife, Rebecca Medina, who was working on health issues for Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles. She now works on the campaign.
Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, said it is uncertain how well Pleitez will do.
"He does have an opportunity to influence the race during the primary and could end up taking votes from Eric Garcetti," Sonenshein said. "The question is will he be enough of a drag to influence the outcome.
"Clearly, he is running on his biography and his energy and trying to fill the void from other better known candidates who took a pass on the race."
Dan Schnur, executive director at the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC agreed on the impact of Pleitez on the race.
"It is an uphill battle for someone without the same amount of money and the lack of an organization," Schnur said. "But Los Angeles voters tend to be a pretty liberal group of voters and he could take away some of the Latino vote. Every vote for him is one less for Garcetti.
"In this race, Pleitez and Kevin James are the bookends. Neither has the money nor the organization, but they could impact the race by the votes they take from Garcetti and Greuel."
Pleitez has devoted much of his effort to discussing the city's financial problems, saying he has the background to deal with the issues, such as reforming the city pension system to reduce its costs and avoiding making cuts in basic services.
"What I'm going to do, instead of focusing on downtown and Hollywood, I'm going to lay out how we can invest in education and training in the communities that have been ignored," Pleitez said. "There's a reason L.A. has one of the worst unemployment rates and why over 50 percent of kids are dropping out.
"The last company I worked for located in Pasadena, partly because of the business climate, but also it could get the skilled workers we needed. We have a tendency to look at education as what happens only in the classroom and don't consider what happens after school or on weekends."
And, if elected, Pleitez said he would not be afraid to address the issue of bankruptcy.
"If I need to declare bankruptcy, I would do it and we could start all over and renegotiate everything," Pleitez said. 'The plan I would have is to have the courts relieve us of our unfunded pension liability and then allow us to raise the capital we need through Angel bonds, which are bonds that have lower interest rates for repayment.'"
Read the article at http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_22556920/uphill-l-mayoral-campaign-emanuel-pleitez.