Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo, announced Tuesday he is resigning to seek Eric Garcetti's 13th District City Council seat in March.
Garcetti is termed out of office and is running for mayor.
Szabo, a Hollywood resident, announced his candidacy in a resignation letter to Villaraigosa. After he steps down on Friday, Szabo will join 12 others who have filed paperwork to raise money to campaign to represent a district that includes the neighborhoods of Echo Park, Silver Lake, East Hollywood, Hollywood and Atwater Village.
Szabo, 36, started as a press secretary for Villaraigosa in 2006. He rose to become the mayor's deputy chief of staff in 2009 and a key adviser on the city's budget, negotiations with employee labor unions and the multibillion- dollar renovation of Los Angeles International Airport.
He also served as a spokesman to former City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and then-City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel prior to working for the mayor.
"Serving your administration with the charge to take on and solve some of the most difficult challenges has made me realize how much I love this city, and how deeply I care about the people we serve," Szabo said in his four-page resignation letter to the mayor.
"The experience I've gained working on your behalf has given me a particular skill set and knowledge base — I know how the city works, I know how it doesn't work, and I know how to make it work," he said. "I'd like to put that to work directly for the people of this city and particularly for those who remain in the shadows with little or no voice in City Hall."
Asian American community groups are expected to rally to elect one of four candidates in the race, including former Board of Public Works Commissioner John Choi, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment General Manager BongHwan Kim, 32-year veteran Los Angeles firefighter Emile Mack and Alexander Cruz De Ocampo, a Filipino American who works at the Saban Family Foundation.
A number of Korean American organizations coalesced in the wake of the city's contentious redistricting process, which ignored the group's call for Koreatown to be consolidated in one city council district.
The crowded field of potential candidates also includes Mitch O'Farrell, a senior Garcetti adviser; actor, businessman and community activist Scott Crawford; Echo Park Neighborhood Council President Jose Sigala; East Hollywood Neighborhood Council member Sam Kbushyan; attorney Josh Post, a former staffer in the administration of former Mayor James Hahn; small business owner Reuben Martinez; and writer and former film editor Thomas Marshall Penick.
Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, is considering running for the open council seat but has not decided or filed the necessary paperwork to raise money.