President Joe Biden has nominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of India. The White House made the announcement on July 9, following weeks of speculation in the local media about the potential appointment.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Garcetti would serve a country where he has some ties. He has visited India multiple times and speaks some Hindi and Urdu. Also, the mayor lived and conducted fieldwork on nationalism, ethnicity, and human rights in Southeast Asia and Northeast Africa.
“Today, the President announced that I am his nominee to serve as U.S. Ambassador to India. I am honored to accept his nomination to serve in this role,” said Garcetti.
“I love Los Angeles and will always be an Angeleno. I want you to know that everyday, I am your mayor, I will continue to lead this city like it is my first day on the job, with passion, focus, and determination.
“I have committed my life to service –– as an activist, as a teacher, as a naval officer, as a public servant, and if confirmed, next as an ambassador. Part of that commitment means that when your nation calls, you answer that call. And should I be confirmed, I’ll bring this same energy, commitment, and love for this city to my new role and will forge partnerships and connections that will help Los Angeles,” he added.
Elected officials and civic leaders in the Black community expressed strong support for Garcetti’s nomination as they extended congratulations to the mayor. U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass described the mayor as “an excellent diplomat” who persuaded “more than 400 U.S. mayors to adopt the Paris Climate Agreement” in his roles as co-founder of Climate Mayors and chair of C40Cities, a network comprised of 97 international cities focused on climate change.
“For as long as I’ve known Mayor Garcetti, I’ve known his determination and I’ve known his heart. In the face of any obstacle in our city’s way – whether it was climate change or the COVID-19 pandemic – one of Mayor Garcetti’s greatest strengths was always to bring everyone to the table and to unify around a common goal,” said Bass, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights.
“While we will absolutely miss his leadership here in Los Angeles, I look forward to continuing to work with him – this time on the world stage – to better the lives of all Americans. I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm the nomination of our Mayor,” she stressed.
Commending Garcetti as L.A.’s chief executive since 2013, Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas noted, “Governing a city as magnificent, complex and diverse as Los Angeles is no easy feat, and Mayor Garcetti has done a remarkable tour of duty.
“For more than two decades of service, he has led with head and heart. I salute him for his notable contributions to Los Angeles – and respect his commitment to continued public service,” he said.
Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., executive publisher/chairman of Bakewell Media and chairman of the board of Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, also acknowledged Garcetti’s leadership while serving in L.A.’s highest elected office.
“Mayor Eric Garcetti has done a great job of guiding Los Angeles through some of the most challenging times in American history. He has worked tirelessly to build a city of inclusion, and has been an advocate of equity for African Americans and all communities of color,” he remarked.
“We will miss his leadership here in Los Angeles, but I also understand why the Biden/Harris administration would select him to be the ambassador for India given the challenges and critical need to have someone of his character and credibility to navigate the relationship between the U.S. and India. I wish him and Amy (his wife) well, as they embark on this next phase of their lives in public service,” said Bakewell.
As L.A. mayor, Garcetti has chalked up several accomplishments and experiences that will be beneficial in his new role. He led the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, spearheaded L.A.’s successful bid to host the 2028 Summer Olympics and championed Metro’s addition of new transit lines and adoption of an all-electric fleet.
In the nomination news release, the White House cited Garcetti’s overseeing of “the busiest container port in the Western Hemisphere, the largest municipal utility in the country, and one of the busiest airports in the world,” in reference to the Port of L.A., Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Los Angeles International Airport, respectively.
Prior to being elected mayor, Garcetti served 12 years as the councilmember for Council District 13 and six years as council president. He also taught at Occidental College’s Department of Diplomacy and World Affairs and at USC’s School of International Relations. Garcetti earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Columbia University and studied international relations as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford
Despite the excitement about his nomination, Garcetti is expected to remain in Los Angeles for the immediate future due to the lengthy Senate confirmation process. He told KNX Newsradio on July 9 that, “I’ll still be here probably for some months, and I’m going to run through that tape of loving every single day that I’m honored to be your mayor.’”
Garcetti, who has reached his term limit and cannot seek another four years as mayor, is scheduled to leave office in December 2022, but would vacate the position early if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The City Charter authorizes Council President Nury Martinez to serve as acting mayor until an interim mayor is selected by the City Council or a special election is held.
“While a disruption in leadership will bring unanticipated challenges – transition also creates room for ingenuity and opportunity,” said Ridley-Thomas.
“It is incumbent upon the City Council to lean into this change, and work with collective nimbleness, perseverance, compassion, and the pursuit of justice, to address the myriad of issues facing this city – of which the homelessness crisis and recovery from the pandemic remain front and center. In the end, “It’s all about leadership.”
City News Service contributed to this article.