I'm sure I'm not the only person who's been wondering why Brad Smith pulled the quizzical move of pulling out of the City Council race and then getting back in again just a week later. So I quizzicaled him, and here's what he had to say.
GGH: Why did you drop out of the race, and then get back in again?
Smith: Because like everyone else in this economy, I had to weigh very real family obligations -- I’m the sole income earner in my family, and for the first couple of months, I could work during the day and campaign at night and on the weekend. But when I got the endorsements from the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and the L.A. County Democratic Party, it made it a very different type of campaign. My employer had been very supportive, but it came to a point where I had to make a very, very tough decision. I want to serve our community, but simply put, Maria and I are not millionaires. We have only one income. We have kids. We need health insurance. I would expect any working person, especially any working parent with young children, can understand that.
GGH: So you decided to quit the campaign. Then you got back in again. What happened?
Smith: Thankfully, my employer is a very civic-minded company, and I was able to take an unpaid leave of absence. Once that was in place, I was able to make this a full-time campaign. I can’t ask our supporters for their time and money without making this an 100 percent effort from my side.
GGH: And now you’re in it to win it? Do you think you can beat Englander? He’s got crazy resources.
Smith: Yes, we are in it to win, and we think we can do it through a grass-roots campaign funded through small donations and clean money -- not through a campaign run by and for City Hall insiders, and with hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interests. As you know, Councilman Greig Smith ran unopposed in 2007, and won with a turnout of less than 15,000. Councilman Smith was Councilman Hal Bernson's top aide and replaced Bernson, and now Councilman Smith's top aide, Mr. Englander, is running to replace Smith.
We're talking about an individual who has never had a career outside of politics, who moved into our community specifically for this position, and who has received the endorsements of the majority of the sitting City Council members -- some of whom have literally known Mr. Englander since he was a child. Last time I checked we were not a monarchy, and he was not the crown prince. He expects to win this in a walk, and if he does, we can expect exactly the same sort of City Hall-centered leadership and lack of attention to the district, no matter what's said on the campaign trail, that we've received over the past 32 years under councilmen Bernson and Smith. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. I think it's time to try something new.