LOS ANGELES — It’s been almost a month since LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia was sworn into office.

While his campaign was unconventional, dressing up as Pikachu, making TikToks with his corgi companions and placing billboard boards breaking down city data across Los Angeles, his choice for chief deputy controller was more customary.

Mejia chose Rick Cole. Cole is no political newcomer. He’s worked as Pasadena’s mayor and as LA’s deputy mayor under Eric Garcetti.

So, what’s behind the unique pairing?

Mejia and Cole joined Alex Cohen on “Inside the Issues” to explain.

What You Need To Know

  • Kenneth Mejia chose Rick Cole as his deputy chief controller

  • Rick Cole has experience as Pasadena's mayor, LA's deputy mayor and as Santa Monica's city manager

  • Cole and Mejia first met after an exchange on Twitter, a year before Mejia's win

  • Cole said he sees Mejia as the future of politics

“I sent him a direct message on twitter,” Cole said about how he and Mejia first connected.

The interaction, which happened a year before the election, and in response to Cole spotting one of Mejia’s billboards.

“I thought this was unconventional,” but in a good way, the chief deputy controller said.

In his direct message to Mejia, Cole wrote, “If I could ever provide any counsel, background, advice… I’m impressed with the way you’re running your campaign.”

Meanwhile, Mejia was impressed by Cole’s outreach.

They met after their exchange on Twitter.

Mejia said, “Why not? No one else has given us a shot.”

The controller felt like the “establishment” wasn’t on board with his campaign and so he appreciated someone of Cole’s background reaching out to him. 

Once Cole met with Mejia, he determined, “This guy’s the real deal.”

While almost 40 years his senior and with decades of experience in office, the deputy chief controller said, “I see Kenneth as the future of politics, as it should be.”

Both the controller and deputy chief controller said their vision aligns on “pretty much everything.”

Mejia said Cole doesn’t shut down ideas, instead he said, “I see what you’re trying to do. Let me help.”

For example, he said Cole helped expedite launching the controller’s website, which Mejia adds is “Nothing like people have ever seen before.”

A click of the website takes you to a much younger and updated page with emojis and bright colors, something different from the rest of the city’s webpages. 

But, the city controller’s website isn’t the only new update in the office.

Cole said this administration is different. For starters, his door is open.

The controller’s office is inviting, and the space is made to feel like people can collaborate, said Cole.

The deputy chief controller noted that an onlooker at the office said they’d seen more of Mejia in the first three weeks in office than they’d ever seen of his predecessor.

Cole said that’s not a knock on former Controller Ron Galperin. He said it’s the result of decades of standard politics.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Cole said about getting things in order at the controller’s office.

He said there’s work to do and one thing for sure, that in this administration it’s not about “boss knows best” it’s about “best idea wins and everyone contributes.”

Let “Inside the Issues” know your thoughts and watch Monday through Friday at 8 and 11 p.m. on Spectrum News 1.