An Interview with Emanuel Pleitez, Candidate for LA Mayor

Emanuel Pleitez, a native of the inner city neighborhood of Los Angeles, El Sereno, and raised by a single mother, experienced life in one of the most underrepresented areas of the city. His story resonates with other Angelenos, especially those who come from similar communities. Emanuel’s inspiration and initiative of providing for the community and re-energizing Los Angeles come from the many hardships he knew growing up.

He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and was the first member of his family to graduate from college — Stanford University. In the upcoming election, he is one of the few Latinos running for mayor.

With a city that is undergoing a lot of financial turmoil, Emanuel has several ways in which he will improve the finances of Los Angeles, one being pension reform. Pleitez stated:

“We need to address specifically the pension fund liability issue, and it cannot be on the backs of workers. They have fought for certain contracts, and I want to make sure that, as Mayor, we are looking down the line and figuring out what are the things we need to do to ensure that the city can be solvent. We literally are on the brink of bankruptcy, and every year because the pension fund liabilities continue to grow as a proportion of the budget, we end up having to cut other services like parks and recreation, public works, and any other service that is of social safety net for our residents.”

One of the biggest proposals on Emanuel’s agenda is education. As a firm believer that education is an important tool in life, he plans on focusing on children and teens that have dropped out of school and implementing programs to strengthen Los Angeles’ school system for every age group. He plans on bringing several resources to the system, such as early childhood programs, afterschool programs, and parenting classes.

“We need to make sure that community colleges are better aligned with the economy, so that community college classes and trainings are more aligned with the jobs that exist today,” Pleitez said. “We need to make sure that any worker, in any stage of their career has an opportunity to take classes so they can have a better job later.”

Emily Satifka, a fellow on Pleitez for LA, remarked, “Emanuel has managed to unite such a diverse group of opinionated and hard-working individuals all passionate about so many different things. I became involved in this campaign because Emanuel and I had one conversation about mentorship programs and addressing the dropout rate in this city. Emanuel is a produce of this city, a success because of the people who believed in him. He brings a unique perspective to education of not replacing structures already in place but by giving extra support to those students who need it most.”

For many in Los Angeles, transportation and mobility issues are the biggest concern. In regards to expediting Measure R, a measure that was approved on the November 2008 ballot to commit on the improvement of Los Angeles’ public transportation system, Pleitez said:

“We need to find as many financing methods for infrastructure projects, we also need to open up the markets for private sector solutions to enter the mobility solutions market One of the funding methods to improve the city’s transportation issues would include, creating public-private partnerships with companies that are willing to invest in infrastructure services.

Some of Emanuel’s non-profit experiences include Latinos on the Fast Track (LOFT) Institute and the Latino Legacy Weekend, which works with Latino leaders of today. Emanuel’s past work also includes working for Los Angeles’ current mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, by being his aide and personal assistant. After working at Goldman Sachs and being a member of the Obama-Biden US Treasury Review team, he ran for California’s 32nd Congressional District Election in 2009 with a grassroots driven campaign.

After running for Congress, Emanuel worked on the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) and later McKinsey & Company. He also served as the Board of Directors Chair for the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund (SALEF). He is also the founder and executive producer of INSPIRA, an organization that tells inspirational stories of Latinos.

Although Emanuel has never held a political position, he has experience with private and public sector jobs, a quality that is found useful by many. “I’m someone that’s unafraid of tackling the most difficult issues head on,” stated Pleitez.

“I sincerely believe that it is time that we (<35) start electing our ‘peers’ to achieve the change that we want to see in our cities,” said John Hill, a fellow on Pleitez’s campaign. “We are adults now and there is no reason to continue to elect our ‘political parents’, especially if they are going to rest on their laurels and continue to advocate for the same old solutions that have failed to work. What we need in Los Angeles and this country is innovation, creativity, and energy. Emanuel has what LA needs, which is why I am drawn to him. He represents something great: a positive change in the direction of politics.”

In keeping with the effort and spirit of engaging and energizing communities at a personal level, Emanuel’s mayoral campaign is also a grassroots driven campaign. Emanuel and his staff engage with voters to make sure their voices are heard. Team Pleitez covers every area of Los Angeles that are usually ignored or in the shadows, some which include Pico Union, South Central, and cities in the Valley such as Pacoima. Fellows and volunteers on Team Pleitez communicate on a daily basis with voters to hear what they would like to see improved in their community.

“This is my first campaign, but I can honestly say that it has been time consuming, rigorous and most importantly, rewarding. It is rare to meet a person as driven and compassionate as Emanuel. He is focused entirely on the progress of the City of Los Angeles and the development (personal and professional) of his staff,” added Hill.