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Biden nominates L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as U.S. ambassador to India

If confirmed, he would leave behind a mixed record as the city struggles with a homelessness crisis and sexual harassment allegations within his office.
Image: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on April 29, 2019.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2019.Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

LOS ANGELES — President Joe Biden has nominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as U.S. ambassador to India, ending months of speculation whether the two-term mayor would land a role within the Biden administration.

"I am honored to accept his nomination to serve in this role," Garcetti said in a statement. "I love Los Angeles and will always be an Angeleno."

If confirmed, Garcetti would be the first L.A. mayor in more than 100 years to voluntarily leave office, the Los Angeles Times reported. Garcetti would arrive in India at a time when coronavirus cases continue to spike, with 45,892 new Covid-19 cases reported in last 24 hours, Reuters reported.

"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," Garcetti said in his statement. "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."

In its statement, the White House applauded Garcetti for overseeing "the busiest container port in the Western Hemisphere, the largest municipal utility in the country, and one of the busiest airports in the world." The White House also noted a successful bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Garcetti's commitment to the Paris Climate agreement.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, said Garcetti is an "excellent choice" for the post and cited his 20 years of public service as an advantage to ongoing relations with India.

"He has a firm grasp on a wide range of issues from immigration and the economy to environmental protection and the critical role of human rights," Feinstein said in a statement. "As the grandson and great-grandson of immigrants, [Garcetti] is committed to economic opportunity and justice for all, two bedrock American values that he will effectively champion in India."

Rumors that the 50-year-old mayor and former City Council president was in talks with the White House first surfaced in the spring. Garcetti, whose father served as Los Angeles District Attorney from 1992 to 2000, was widely thought to be in the running as Biden’s pick for transportation secretary, but Pete Buttigieg was ultimately nominated and accepted the Cabinet position.

Mired by a homelessness crisis, an affordable housing shortage and sexual harassment allegations within his office, Garcetti would leave behind a mixed record. He has been credited with building or extending 15 new transit lines in a city infamous for traffic and steering L.A. through the coronavirus pandemic.

But a recent lawsuit alleges that a top Garcetti staffer harassed one of the mayor's bodyguards while Garcetti brushed off the behavior. The mayor has repeatedly denied the claims.

Separately, a former deputy mayor was indicted on corruption charges in an ongoing federal investigation, The Associated Press reported. And in June, Garcetti asked his chief of staff to step down following a report that she made disparaging comments on social media in 2016 and 2017 about labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, NBC Los Angeles reported.