AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Garcetti made a brief run for the council presidency last summer but dropped it when he was unable to get the eight votes needed. With the upcoming Senate race, however, several members said they approached Garcetti and asked him to try again. Garcetti has been working the phones to ensure he has the votes that could force Padilla to step aside – possibly as early as this week, but by the end of the year at the latest. Padilla has been serving as council president since 2001 and there have been grumblings in the past about how long he would hold on to the post in a time of term limits and others wanting a chance to lead. Padilla, who is being termed out in 2007, has announced plans to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys, where he will challenge Assemblywoman Cindy Montaez, D-Mission Hills. In other developments, Padilla received some bad news Friday when members of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles and county firefighters announced they were endorsing Montaez. Up until then, Padilla had picked up endorsements from most of the major unions and organizations in the city. As political pressure mounts over the operation of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Board of Education is expected to decide this week whether to hold a special election or appoint someone to complete the term of Jose Huizar, who was elected to the City Council. Huizar will not take over his new job until early December, but the board wants to make a decision as soon as possible on what path to take, board President Marlene Canter said. “We are studying the legal opinions, but our main concern is that the people and the students in his district are represented and have someone who can speak for them,” Canter said. Surprising, she said, has been the lack of input from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has ratcheted up his rhetoric on the need to change how the school district operates. “I thought we would have heard from him, but we haven’t heard a word,” Canter said. “With all his talk about the governance issue, it wouldn’t be unusual for the mayor to have a suggestion.” Villaraigosa said he has purposefully stayed away from suggesting anyone – possibly to avoid having any one person be ruled out because of the growing animosity between the mayor and the board. “They will make their decision,” Villaraigosa said. “The only thing I’ll say is I would like to see someone on that board who wants to be a reformer and will support a change in governance.” The mayor proved to be a strong draw last week at the meeting of the San Fernando Valley’s United Chambers of Commerce – both for those opposed to some of his policies and others drawn to him. About a dozen members of the Animal Defense League, carrying signs and shouting through bullhorns, paraded in front of the Marriott Hotel as Villaraigosa was speaking. Inside, it was a different story. After his speech, the mayor was inundated by business leaders and others vying to have their pictures taken with him. “If they could charge $5 a photo, they could retire the debt of the city,” mused Bruce Ackerman of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley. In contrast to Villaraigosa, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to travel all they way to China to feel the love. Reporters accompanying the governor and his entourage reported that the governor – who faced his first major political loss in the special election earlier this month – was received enthusiastically everywhere he went in China. “Fortunately, there are no television ads from California teachers and nurses running over here,” one Schwarzenegger staffer joked, as reported in The Roundup, a daily bulletin of doings in state government. Daily News Staff Writer Lisa Sodders contributed to this report. Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Talks between Council President Alex Padilla and Councilman Eric Garcetti over a shift in power have come after months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by various council members. Padilla – facing a mid-January deadline to formally enter the race for a state Senate seat as well as the time constraints of a campaign – has been getting pressure to step aside and allow someone else to take over running the council. Without his agreement, he would face the embarrassment of an ouster at a time when he is seeking to portray a positive image to voters. Several council members have complained about a lack of opportunity to take a leadership role and are frustrated by what they see as passivity in developing new policies for the city.