Possible Los Angeles Mayoral Election

August 2021

With Mayor Garcetti on his way to becoming Ambassador to India, a vacancy is expected to occur in the Mayor’s office and the political wrangling over a successor will officially begin. If the U.S. Senate confirms Mayor Garcetti’s ambassadorship:
•  Council President Nury Martinez will become Acting Mayor until the City Council either appoints a new Mayor or schedules a special election to fill the vacancy. Although the Charter technically requires the Council to either appoint a successor or schedule a special election, the Councilmembers may be unable to reach a consensus on a successor – in which case Council President Martinez will, by default, remain Acting Mayor until the already-scheduled November 2022 Mayoral election.
•  The City Council may appoint a successor Mayor – whether Council President Martinez, another Council member, one of the announced Mayoral candidates, or anyone else who meets the requirements – to serve until a new Mayor is elected in the November 2022 election. This appointee could simply serve as a “placeholder” and not seek election next year (which the announced candidates would presumably prefer) or could join the 2022 race.
•  Council President Martinez will retain her seat on the City Council while she serves as Acting Mayor. However, if the Council appoints her to serve as a successor Mayor through the November 2022 election, then her Council seat would become vacant – at which point the Council would select her successor, and there would be an election in November 2022 to fill the remainder of her unexpired term.
•  Instead of appointing a successor Mayor, the Council may call a special election, to take place between the date of the vacancy and the June 2022 election, to fill the remainder of Mayor Garcetti’s term – although this option seems very unlikely, given the cost and how close such a special election would be to the regular 2022 elections.
•  The person elected Mayor in the November 2022 election will be able to serve two full four-year terms, even if appointed successor Mayor by the Council. The period the appointee will be in office – mid-2021 through the end of 2022 – is less than half of a full four-year term and therefore is not considered a “term” for purposes of the City’s term limit laws.
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Feel free to contact a Sutton Law Firm attorney with any questions regarding these upcoming elections.
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