County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky announced Thursday he will not run for mayor of Los Angeles, saying he would give way to "a new generation" of political leaders when his term ends in 2014.
In a blog post, Yaroslavsky said the decision was one he wrestled with for months and was one of the most difficult of his political life.
"I've been urged to enter next year's race by friends, supporters and residents throughout the city. And I've been humbled and touched by the confidence they've placed in me," he wrote.
To read Yaroslavsky's announcement in full, click here.
The 63-year-old supervisor, a lifelong Angeleno, wrote that "with my expertise and experience,'' there is no doubt he could "help transform L.A.'s fortunes.
"In the end, however, it is this very length of service that has tipped the scales for me."
Yaroslavsky will have served 40 years as an elected official in Los Angeles when he is termed out from the Board of Supervisors in 2014, a tenure he called "eventful, productive and fulfilling."
Yaroslavsky's exit from the race will ease some gridlock in the campaign, allowing the current candidates to pursue donors and constituencies that were holding out to see if Yaroslavsky would run. However, his exit will not dull Yaroslavsky's influence over issues in the race, according to political analyst Raphael Sonenshein, who heads the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles.
"The candidates will be working very hard to get his endorsement. Zev turns from a possible opponent to a possible ally,'' Sonenshein said. "It will give candidates a reason to talk more about some of the issues he cares about,
Mayoral candidates City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti moved quickly to praise Yaroslavsky's 37 years as an elected official, first as a Los Angeles councilman in 1975 and then as a Los Angeles County Supervisor in 1994.
Greuel likened Yaroslavsky's influence to that of former Mayor Tom Bradley and longtime County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. Yaroslavsky "will
continue to be an iconic and transformational leader for L.A. whose profound impact will be felt for generations," she said.
Garcetti said he admired Yaroslavsky's commitment to some of L.A.'s most intractable problems—homelessness and transportation.
"Zev Yaroslavsky has always led with intellect, creativity and determination," he said.
City Councilwoman Jan Perry and attorney Kevin James, who are also running for mayor, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Sonenshein said Yaroslavsky's exit, contrary to conventional wisdom, does not help any one candidate more than another. As moderate Democrats with strong ties to the San Fernando Valley, Greuel will pick up some of his base of support. However, Yaroslavsky and Garcetti have been close over the years and Perry has been garnering backing from some conservative areas of the Valley who otherwise would have supported Yaroslavsky.
"I think they all have some opportunities they didn't have before,''
Yaroslavsky committed to serving his final 27 months in office, after which he said he will "move on to the other things I've longed to do outside the political arena while I have plenty of productive years ahead of me. Simply put, it's time for a new generation of leaders to emerge and guide this region into the future."
Yaroslavsky vowed that he and his staff "will give our all during the next 27 months" as one of the five supervisors of the nation's most populous county.
The third district supervisor represents most of the Westside, San Fernando Valley and mountain communities.
What do you think of Yaroslavsky's announcement? Had he run for mayor of Los Angeles, would you have voted for him? Vote in our poll below and tell us what you think in the comments.