Not every candidate for mayor has a kick-off event at the Major Football League stadium.
But it did so on Wednesday night when Ramit Varma, an Encino-based entrepreneur, rented the Banc of California stadium to announce his entry into a crowded circle of candidates hoping to replace Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Addressing a crowd of about 400, Varma pledged to end homelessness, cut government waste and “build the city of the future – now.”
“We are losing what turned Los Angeles into Los Angeles,” said 46-year-old Varma, adding that the dream of living in Los Angeles is becoming increasingly unattainable.
Varma blamed the “political machine” at City Hall and criticized the lack of housing built so far under the HHH proposal, a $ 1.2 billion bond measure passed by voters in 2016. He also questioned the spending of money on programs such as treatment centers in the name of the “awake.”
“You can choose more of the same,” Varma said. “Or you can restart Los Angeles.”
Varma, co-founder of online learning company Revolution Prep, has pledged to invest at least $ 1 million of his own funds into his campaign.
Varma, who is of Indian descent, joins a group that includes Los Angeles City Councilors Joe Buscaino and Kevin de Leon, Rep. Karen Bass, Atti. Mike Foyer, business leader Jessica Lall and real estate agent Mel Wilson.
Developer Rick Caruso is also about to join the field. A spokesman for Caruso told The Times on Wednesday that Caruso worked with Bearstar Strategies, which campaigned for politicians like former Gov. Jerry Brown and Vice President Kamala Harris while he weighs everything.
“While a final decision has yet to be made, Rick is seriously considering running for mayor, and as part of that consideration, he worked with a variety of people, including Bearstar Strategies, to analyze the situation and determine how best he can help address the growing problem. Los Angeles authorities. problems, ”the spokesman said.
Caruso’s decision to run dramatically changed the course of the race. At this point, Varma and candidates Lall and Wilson talk about their business experiences.
Many of those who gathered on Wednesday worked with Varma or were longtime friends. Some came from the bay area.
Mark Merrill, co-founder of video game developer Riot Games, called on the crowd to support Varma when he spoke about the city’s poverty. “It hurts to look around and see what’s going on,” said Merrill, one of several people who spoke at the launch of the campaign.
Marjorie Gale came from her home in View Park with a friend. “I’m trying to figure out what everyone is seeing,” Gail said as she scanned the room where diners were sipping cocktails and eating lobster rolls.
The lack of affordable housing in the city is her biggest problem, she said, adding, “I definitely want to hear all the opinions.”
Times staff columnist David Zaniser contributed to this report.