Endorsement: Hydee Feldstein Soto for Los Angeles City Attorney
What should Los Angeles voters be looking for in the next city attorney? With Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer nominated, they will be asked to choose from seven candidates in the June 7 primary. This is a difficult question because the job involves a variety of roles and responsibilities, each requiring a different set of skills.
The Los Angeles City Attorney, for example, is the city’s legal adviser, advising the mayor, city council and city departments on what they can and cannot do – or what they must or need not do, since the office provides legal advice. , which policy makers may choose to ignore. This responsibility requires the City Attorney to be thoughtful, persuasive and creative in helping to develop effective and humane policies.
The office also represents the Los Angeles government in lawsuits. Numerous claims and lawsuits are threatened and filed against the city, some of which are entirely justified. The city attorney’s job is to decide when to fight and when to settle, and that requires a pragmatic and responsible decision maker. Too often these decisions have been informed by ego and political expediency rather than what is best for the city.
The city attorney can also sue on behalf of the city and consumers. The LA City Attorney has specific authority under state law to sue under the state’s unfair competition law, as Feuer did when he sued Wells Fargo & Co. for practices that allowed employees to open bank accounts without customer consent. This puts LA at the adult table, alongside prosecutors, federal regulators and prosecutors.
The City Attorney is a law enforcement official responsible for deciding when and whether to prosecute people charged with crimes including vandalism, petty theft, drunk driving and others lesser offenses punishable by up to one year in prison. To hear some candidates speak, the city attorney is first and foremost a prosecutor, and preferably tough on crime. But a successful city lawyer is focused on making communities safe and making the criminal justice system work for everyone, not just racking up convictions.
Candidates for the June primary have a wide range of experiences and ideas. We recommend Hydee Feldstein Soto. She would bring deep legal expertise, independence and intellectual curiosity to the work.
Retired a decade ago, Feldstein was a longtime partner in bankruptcy and acquisitions law firms, and she led teams of lawyers from various disciplines. It was complex work that required collaboration and problem solving to finalize deals that worked for clients. It was good training for managing the more than 500 attorneys in the city attorney’s office and navigating city hall, which is full of tough challenges and competing priorities.
His top priorities include helping departments streamline affordable housing approvals, reviewing agreements with the county to ensure the city receives its fair share of public and mental health services, and reviewing city contracts. to understand why homeless housing is so expensive to build. She wants to strengthen enforcement of city ordinances by using the administrative penalty system to issue fines for offenses such as illegal vacation rentals and building code violations.
Regarding the prosecution of crimes, she believes that offenders should face the consequences of the crimes, but that sanctions or interventions should include diversion to treatment, community services or restorative justice programs.
Feldstein Soto understands the possibilities and limitations of the office. The city attorney is not a decision maker. It is important. Feldstein Soto was skeptical of state bills designed to override local zoning to allow for denser housing, and she opposed Senate Bill 9, which allows up to four units on zoned land. single family. But SB 9 is now law — and good — and the bureau is responsible for enforcing it, even if the city attorney disagrees with it. If elected, we hope she uses her land-use acumen to modernize city plans and laws so communities can make room for desperately needed housing rather than spend time developing plans to thwart state housing laws.
Among the other candidates, the former chairman of the Public Works Board Kevin James knows how the municipal administration works and has a reputation for being a pragmatic and results-oriented manager. civil rights lawyer Faisal Gill focused on the Los Angeles Police Department’s liability for officers’ misconduct and said it would not enforce the city’s ban on homeless encampments. The two candidates, former Republicans, now Democrats, have made significant ideological shifts during their careers. James was a conservative radio host while working as an entertainment lawyer before working in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration and Gill worked in the George W. Bush administration and advocated against same-sex marriage.
Marina Torres served as a federal prosecutor for six years before running for city attorney, and Richard Kim is an assistant city attorney. Both have focused their campaigns on corruption and fighting crime and said they would be more aggressive in prosecuting crimes. Teddy Kapur is a corporate restructuring lawyer and Sherri Onica Valle Cole is a former assistant city attorney.
Among the candidates, Feldstein Soto stands out for her experience, her strong sense of the law and her problem-solving skills, and the Times recommends her as a municipal attorney.