By Daryl Paranada
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti engaged in wide-ranging discussion about common challenges and opportunities during a private, mayor-to-mayor event presented by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and moderated by President Lee Pelton at Emerson College Los Angeles on November 18.
The mayors discussed a variety of issues facing both Boston and LA, including solutions to expand affordable housing, tackling climate change, improving transportation, and the importance of diversity. The event was part of a City to City conference put together by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce that convenes civic and business leaders for inspiration and best-practice sharing on the critical issues facing our nation.
Before the discussion began, Garcetti told the audience that he and Walsh were genuine friends, despite the friendly rivalry they have regarding their city’s sports teams.
“We got the Olympics, you got the [sports] crowns,” joked Garcetti. “It’s really a joy to have you here.”
Around 50 members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, 20 members of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, business leaders, and Emerson College Trustees Vin Di Bona ’66 and Ira Goldstone ’71 attended the event.
Pelton thanked both mayors for their friendship and all that they’ve done to support the College over the years.
“[Mayor Walsh] has been a great partner to us,” said Pelton, specifically pointing out his support in Emerson’s efforts to revitalize downtown Boston. “He’s been a great friend to Emerson and to me.”
The president said that while both mayors are rivals when it comes to their sports teams, they can agree on one thing: beating New York.
Pelton thanked Garcetti for the role he played in helping Emerson LA get built. Garcetti once served as councilmember for the district where Emerson LA is located and attended the building’s grand opening in 2014.
“If you turn on the television, you might recognize this building,” said Pelton, referring to the many television shows, films, and commercials that have shot at Emerson LA, including How to Get Away with Murder, a spot for Advil, and an upcoming FX show. “[Mayor Garcetti] helped to steward the Emerson LA building.”
“Emerson has been an amazing part of LA,” Garcetti added, before launching into conversation with Walsh.
Sabrina Jacobs ’19 didn’t have the opportunity to attend the lunch—she was at her internship in Mayor Garcetti’s office—but said she was glad that the College hosted such an important event, bringing together mayors of two cities vital to Emerson.
“It’s great that the mayors had a conversation on Emerson LA’s campus because so many of our students are vocal and change makers and creative,” said Jacobs, whose two passions include politics and film.
An intern on Garcetti’s communications and press team, Jacobs has had the opportunity to attend video shoots with the mayor. They’ve even talked about her time at Emerson LA.
“He specifically asked me about Emerson LA because he was instrumental in getting the campus built, and I told him that I liked the campus and program,” said Jacobs, who wants to write a political comedy one day. “There are so many issues facing the world right now and being a part of the mayor’s team has been a great experience and allowed me to help people in any way I can.”
The mayor-to-mayor event provided audience members an opportunity to see how both cities tackle important issues, allowing for an exchange of ideas and a discussion of potential solutions.
“Relationships form when you spend [time] together on a learning journey,” said Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President and CEO James E. Rooney. “We’ve got two of the best mayors in America joining us for lunch.”
“Synergies between these great metro areas can only lead to great success,” added Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Maria S. Salinas.