I just got off the phone with mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez.
I’ve met with a few city council candidates this year and in years past, and traded emails and direct messages with a few of the people running for L.A. mayor. And even shared a riding conversation with our current Mayor Villaraigosa during a particularly memorable CicLAvia awhile back.
But I’ve never had a candidate for mayor think that talking to me — and more importantly, through me to you — was worth picking up the phone and actually calling.
Make no mistake. Pleitez in a longshot in tomorrow’s election.
But he wants your vote enough to run 104 miles over the past few days, while biking another 33. And he’s adding 10 more on foot, plus five on two wheels before wrapping up his cross-city travels in San Pedro this afternoon.
So why is he running and biking, other than just to get noticed, and maybe plant a subtle suggestion that he’s younger, and presumably healthier, than anyone else in the race?
He wants to call attention to the need for healthier transportation choices for every Angeleno, wherever you live. With more buses and double the amount of bike lanes.
In fact, he spoke at length about the healthy aspects of bicycling and the benefits for the city in getting more people on bikes.
Interestingly, he also said something I’ve often heard from other bike riders — and never from anyone who doesn’t actually ride. That bikes allow you to interact with the city and its people on a very personal level, giving him a chance to meet people passing by in a way that he never could from inside a campaign car.
In other words, he gets it.
He also promised to appoint a Deputy Mayor of Urban Design to focus on the intersection of transportation, planning and architecture to build a more livable city. And to eliminate the departmental silos that keep government agencies and employees from talking and working with one another in any meaningful way to solve problems and build a better city.
And he had one more message to the cycling community.
However tomorrow’s election turns out, he wants us to keep raising our voices, stay organized and keep working for change on our streets. And keep communicating with those who don’t bike to break down the barriers that keep us apart.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not telling you who to vote for. I assume you’re a grown up and fully capable of making that choice yourself.
But I will tell you this.
Emanuel Pleitez is the real deal.
And worth your consideration when you cast your ballot tomorrow.
Pleitez will finish his journey across the city this afternoon, running and riding from Watts to San Pedro starting at 1 pm at Athens Park on South Broadway in Willowbrook and finishing at 4:30 at the San Pedro Fish Market.