Pleitez, a former technology executive, has raised at least $150,000 in eligible donations, allowing him to receive matching funds from the city, his campaign said this week.
An El Sereno resident, Pleitez is one of eight contenders seeking to replace Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is termed out this year. But in the public eye, the race has split into a pack of four leading candidates, defined as those with the most experience and fundraising ability, as opposed to the lesser-known individuals who have trouble raising funds or getting invited to debates.
Pleitez's qualification for matching funds may open a few more doors for him. Thursday night, he was among five candidates invited to participate in a debate hosted by the Jewish community group CivicCare.
His campaign communications director, John Hill, has accused local political and advocacy groups of ignoring Pleitez. The 30-year-old candidate wasn't invited to the League of Conservation Voters forum in downtown last month, prompting a handful of protesters to gather outside the debate. He was also shut out of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce debate in September.
Overall, he's been invited to just five debates, far fewer than the leading candidates - City Controller Wendy Greuel, attorney Kevin James and council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry.
"We have definitely been ignored," Hill said. "It's unfortunate that money is what determines participation."
Greuel's and Perry's campaigns have complained about Pleitez being excluded, and Greuel's team sent a letter to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce this fall.
"You can't have a real conversation about how to move L.A. forward without including all the voices," John Shallman, Greuel's consultant said in a statement released Thursday.
"Emanuel Pleitez represents the Latino community. He represents young voters... He's got a strong argument for why he should be involved in these events," Shallman added.
Pleitez has held a variety of jobs, working at financial firm Goldman Sachs, and more recently at a Pasadena-based technology firm.
His government jobs include working for Villaraigosa when he was a city councilman, and at the U.S. Treasury as a special assistant to Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Pleitez ran a failed 2009 bid for Congress, seeking a seat in the San Gabriel Valley. He came in third behind Judy Chu and Gil Cedillo, earning 13.4 percent of the vote.