Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Sunday endorsed Wendy Greuel to become the city's next mayor.
"As I have watched the election unfold, I have become convinced that the candidate best able to lead all of Los Angeles during this troubled time is City Controller Wendy Greuel," Ridley-Thomas said. "I have known Wendy for over 25 years. I have confidence in Wendy Greuel. She is a committed problem solver, whose knowledge of city government, experience, and appeal to all segments of our city equips her to lead."
Ridley-Thomas served on City Council and in the state Senate and Assembly before becoming the second African-American elected to the county Board of Supervisors in 2008. He did not weigh in during the mayoral primary, but on Sunday urged his supporters to back Greuel in her May 21 runoff against Councilman Eric Garcetti.
He did not explicitly criticize Garcetti, but when asked why he chose the city controller over the councilman, he said it was because of Greuel's record.
"Wendy's experience is broader and deeper as a policy maker, as a problem solver and as a leader," he said. "And that's the combination of skills and experiences that I think Los Angeles needs."
He cited Greuel's endorsements by both the County Federation of Labor and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce as proof that she could build consensus.
Ridley-Thomas barely overlapped with Garcetti or Greuel's tenure on the City Council. He was heavily backed by the labor federation in his 2008 race against Councilman Bernard Parks in his supervisorial race.
The supervisor stressed the importance of African-American voters in South Los Angeles, part of Ridley-Thomas' district, in the runoff election.
"South Los Angeles will be pivotal in this election and I know both candidates know and understand that," he said.
Many voters in the area backed Councilwoman Jan Perry in her unsuccessful mayoral bid. Ridley-Thomas and Perry, an African-American who represent South Los Angeles, have never been allies, but some have speculated that he did not weigh in during the primary because of her presence in the contest.
Asked whether he avoided endorsing until now because of Perry's presence in the race, Ridley-Thomas said he waited "in deference to a range of considerations."
"I had at least three people in the race with whom I served on the City Council and I felt it necessary to evaluate the merits of their respective candidacies," he said, adding that he believed strategically his endorsement matters most now.