The name of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has once again surfaced as a potential candidate for a post in President Biden’s administration, five months after saying he turned down a federal job.
Garcetti is one of many candidates being considered for the post of US ambassador to India, political news site Axios reported on Tuesday.
In December, the mayor said he had turned down unspecified employment with the Biden administration and would remain in Los Angeles to lead pandemic relief efforts. However, Garcetti has not publicly ruled out leaving before the end of his second term in December 2022.
Its spokesperson Alex Comisar called the Axios report “speculative”.
“We are not going to indulge in speculation. We are 100% focused on ending the COVID pandemic and passing a justice budget for the city, ”Comisar said on Tuesday.
Comisar declined to comment when asked if Garcetti is being considered by Biden’s team.
The mayor was one of Biden’s early supporters in the presidential race and served as co-chair of his campaign committee.
Garcetti’s departure could spark a chain of political events in Los Angeles.
Under the city charter, city council has the power to choose someone to fulfill the remainder of a mayor’s unfinished term. Who it would be is far from clear.
Two elected – City Atty. Mike Feuer and Councilor Joe Buscaino – are already vying for Garcetti’s seat in the June 2022 primary elections, but several more could step in.
Garcetti’s possible appointment to a Biden post last year sparked daily protests outside his home from members of Black Lives Matter and others. Activists criticize the mayor for his handling of police shootings against unarmed black men and his oversight of the city’s budget.
Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, said her first reaction to the news was: “Good”.
Abdullah said the group had objected to Garcetti getting a position that would give him national influence on politics, but “an ambassador is not going to set the policy.”
“We believe, however, that what he is trying to build is an external relations experience to make himself more qualified as he runs for higher office,” Abdullah said. “And any office he’s leading for where he has influence on politics, we’ll try to block him.”
Garcetti has earned praise for pushing for masks and leading the city’s COVID-19 vaccination and coronavirus screening efforts. But he has been criticized by restaurateurs and others for supporting the closure of certain businesses.
As the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped and businesses have reopened, city leaders continue to face a growing homelessness crisis. The city faces potentially radical action from a federal judge over its roaming management. At the same time, shootings have increased by almost 67% compared to the same period last year and homicides by more than 26%.
Garcetti also faces charges from a former bodyguard, who alleges in a lawsuit that he was sexually harassed by the former mayor’s adviser and that the mayor witnessed the behavior but did nothing to stop it.
Garcetti denies having witnessed inappropriate behavior.
Times editors David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.