Voters in the nation's second-largest city will elect a new mayor Tuesday in a race that will make history and offer a possible indicator on public sentiment toward unions representing municipal employees during a budget crisis.
Incumbent Antonio Villaraigosa, the first Latino mayor here in more than 130 years, is stepping down after eight years because of term limits.
Tuesday's faceoff is between City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel. Both are longtime political players in Los Angeles.
Here are four things you should know about them and the election, where polls show a seesaw battle.
Either candidate will make City Hall history with a victory.
Greuel, 51, would be the first woman mayor.
"Together, we'll get one step closer to breaking one more glass ceiling and electing our city's first woman mayor," her website tells voters.
Garcetti, 42, would be the first Jewish mayor. Garcetti's mother is Jewish, and his father, Gil, the former district attorney whose office lost in the OJ Simpson murder trial in the 1990s, is of Mexican and Italian descent.
"I always felt myself to be Jewish and Latino very comfortably," Garcetti told the Jewish Journal. "Weekends were both filled with bowls of menudo and lots of bagels."
But it may be Los Angeles' vast Latino demographic that could swing an election in which voter turnout is projected to be low.
In the homestretch, both candidates have been scrambling to capture the Latino bloc, highlighting their ties to the community and launching attack ads against each other.
Hispanics make up 45% of the city's population and almost a third of the electorate, and their influence was widely viewed as evident with the history-setting election of Villaraigosa.
Greuel has highlighted her ties to Latino leaders, and Garcetti touts his grandparents from Mexico.
The attack ads, however, are painting a different picture.
Garcetti is portrayed as wearing a Latino mask and displacing Hispanic families during the revitalization of Hollywood, an area Garcetti represents as councilman.
Greuel registered as a Republican in the early 1990s when the California governor was Republican Pete Wilson, who is reviled by Latinos for backing Proposition 187 that denied certain government benefits to undocumented immigrants. The courts struck down most of that initiative. Greuel said she opposed Proposition 187.
In the closing days of the election, Garcetti had a seven-point lead over Greuel, according to a USC Price School of Public Policy/Los Angeles Times poll released Friday.
Garcetti was leading among Latino voters (53% to 43%), but Greuel was leading among black voters (48% to 25%).
Surprisingly, however, Garcetti also was leading among women voters, despite Greuel's historic quest: 47% to 43%, the poll said.
Still, the poll found, "gender was the top reason given when voters were asked about their support of Greuel. Among Greuel supporters, 13% said they are voting for her because she is a woman and 'we need a female mayor,'" pollsters said.
Lights, camera, action!
Both candidates are lifelong Angelenos with extensive political resumes.
But what sets them apart from mayoral candidates in other major cities is that both boast of having worked in Hollywood.
Perhaps that's not too surprising in the nation's entertainment capital.
Starting in 1997, Greuel worked in the film industry for five years at DreamWorks, where she worked beside director Steven Spielberg and Hollywood mavens Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Greuel was a studio liaison to the government sector and organized political fundraisers for the three founders of DreamWorks.
For his part in showbiz, Garcetti appeared in cameo roles in such productions as "All My Children" and even played a fictional mayor on television.
He also is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, he says.
Both candidates are touting those sensitivities to Hollywood as the entertainment industry in Los Angeles has been facing stiff competition from outside the state, enhanced by tax incentives or lower costs.
The Los Angeles job base thrives partly on Hollywood productions staying local.
Obama-Clinton Part II
California, a Democratic stronghold, was a major battleground between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.
Villaraigosa put all his chips on Clinton and endorsed her. In this month's election on his successor, Villaraigosa isn't extending an endorsement, though he has lamented the recent negative turn in campaign ads.
Clinton won the California primary, but Obama went on to win the presidency.
Political observers are casting Greuel and Garcetti as modern-day proxies of that Clinton-Obama rivalry.
Greuel supported Clinton in the 2008 race. In fact, Greuel worked in the presidential administration of her husband former President Bill Clinton, who is endorsing her in this month's race.
Garcetti was one of five co-chairpersons for Obama's 2008 campaign in California.
Bill Clinton has been visible in his support of Greuel; Obama has refrained from weighing in on the race because the candidates are both Democrats.
Despite the two candidates' Democratic credentials, Garcetti is viewed as more conservative, if his support among conservative voters is any indication.