By Diana L. Chapman
In the race for the Lieutenant Governor’s seat – likely to be an intense campaign now that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided last week to duke it out with Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn -- a cast of usual – and not so usual -- suspects have quietly eyed the potential opening of Hahn’s council seat.
The Democratic primary on June 8 will determine which candidate – Hahn or Newsom – will run in the Nov. 2 race against one of three Republican candidates who also filed to run for the state office.
If Hahn wins, her Los Angeles council seat, a four-year-term post that can be filled three times by the same person -- will be up for grabs, and a remarkable cast of folks from San Pedro are aiming for it, including a former council member and an information technology manager.
While some say they have no plans to run, such as Mike Lansing, a former Los Angeles Unified school board member, others say they are determined to enter the council race.
Sitting on the fence, several candidates explained they are waiting for what the June election reveals.
However,, the residents who have admitted their interest in the council seat are offering us a sneak preview as to what’s likely to come, since no matter what happens, Hahn’s Los Angeles term ends June 2013.
It was Hahn’s decision to run for the state job that fueled all sorts of speculation about who is shopping around for 15th District council seat. The district spans from San Pedro to Watts and includes, Wilmington, the Harbor Gateway and Harbor City.
Having been horribly disappointed by all our former council members during my time in Los Angeles, here’s what I’ll be looking for from our council candidates:
• --Honesty, being upfront with your constituents and the media
• --Follow through: Making sure the staff follows through with the actions you promised to take, a rarity among our council members
• --Listen and act; don’t wait on your haunches and sit around for someone else to do the job
• --Take care of your community first instead of getting caught up in the glitz, glamour and political forces in the sweeping metropolis of Los Angeles
• --Improve over your predecessors, who failed us routinely in their dealings with the Los Angeles port and city council
• --Bring back the public lands to us, such as the Cabrillo Beach Youth Camp, that has been run by the Boy Scouts for years and has failed to share that facility with the public – even though it’s on public port property.
• --Breathe life into our dead Ports O Call, a sea side retail village, modeled after New England, that has withered on the vine with few open shops and an utter embarrassment to our community.
Done in an alphabetical listing, on the “definite” list are:
- Doug Epperhart, 53, a member of the Coastal Neighborhood Council for eight years, has served as president twice and publishes newspapers and newsletters for many organizations, such as Chamber of Commerces. In the 17 years he’d lived in San Pedro, he has donated a vast pool of time to community service, first serving on the Palisades Residents Association and becoming an ongoing activist.
The underpinnings of his campaign, he said, include that he will bring a message to “the people that they are in charge,” and to transform Los Angeles from being one of the “most business-unfriendly city in America.”
His reasons for running stem from his love for San Pedro and wanting to leave it a better place for his children.
“The philosophy of Fiorello La Guardia that “the essence of municipal government is good housekeeping; to make a city clean and keep it that way” sums up what the office of city council is about,” Epperhart wrote. “Public safety, public works, public service is the job of local government. I believe L.A.’s politicians are too often out of touch with the reality of their constituents’ lives. Being the highest-paid city council doesn’t guarantee quality. I want to change that. The city is on the verge of bankruptcy. That’s the legacy we are left. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
- David Greene, 48, an information technology manager, who has lived in San Pedro for six years, holds the president position for the San Pedro Democratic Club and has since 2007. He’s held a various number of posts over the last several years, currently sitting on the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports and as a board member for the Harry Bridges Institute and an LAUSD human relations commission.
“This is a real time of crisis,” Greene wrote. “The city is broke. And that situation is likely to be with us for years to come. Out of this crisis must come opportunity. There is too much at stake. We need to bring our government closer to the people.
“On paper, the Neighborhood Councils were meant to help do that. In practice, they have been hobbled and ignored, and now are being slashed. We need to develop a greater sense of community throughout the city. Neighborhood Councils do that now and we need them to do more of it, not less.”
- Rudy Svorinich, Jr., 49, former Los Angeles City Councilman, who has lived here nearly his entire life, explained he will run again partly because of the city's financial crisis and to ensure our area receives its fair share from downtown Los Angeles.
"The reason I am running for office again is because I believe what the city needs right now (because of the our current budgetary issues) is a steady and
experienced hand at the wheel," he emailed.
"We need an experienced officeholder that knows how to fight for our communities at City Hall in a tight economy while knowing how to exercise fiscal restraint. Moreover, we need an experienced officeholder who already "knows the ropes" in regard to obtaining our basic city services."
Svorinich – who owns a government affairs/public relations firm in San Pedro - served in office from 1993 to 2001. A few years ago, he moved to Palos Verdes and is now in the process of moving back to San Pedro. Prior to running for office, he owned Industrial Paint Co. in Wilmington and served on both the San Pedro and Wilmington Chambers of Commerce as a vice-president. He also served as president of the Dalmatian-American Club.
According to Svorinich, he was responsible for bringing $1.2 billion in new
programs, facilities and services back to the 15th District during his tenure -
without a tax increase.
On the maybe list:
- John Delgado, a 40-year-old senior account executive for the International Transportation Industry, currently leads as the president of San Pedro’s Central Neighborhood Council. He has sat on the council for the past three years. With a handful of other parents – wanting to rescue ailing baseball fields and ailing facilities in Los Angeles parks – he started and became president of the non-profit San Pedro Youth Sports Association.
The association has since negotiated various deals with Los Angeles to help pay for and repair baseball and other Los Angeles owned recreational facilities.
As a volunteer, he sits on these advisory boards: Leland Park, Leland Street Elementary, Port of Los Angeles and served on the committee studying what should stay at controversial Knoll Hill Park.
In a paid position, Delgado coordinates the sports programs for Bloch Field under the auspices of the YMCA and says, as a father of four, children will always be a part of his council agenda in both organized and unorganized sports.
“My vision is to generate community support from within,” Delgado emailed. “I’ll work to establish relationships between community members and the City of Los
Angeles and focus on team building and trust. I want our communities to take pride and have a sense of identity. This of course will take hard work and again....
- John Mavar, 33, a lifetime resident and San Pedro Longshoreman, said: “The city of Los Angeles budget is out of control and this is due poor leadership of past elected officials.
As a vice president of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council, Mavar explained he intends to make sure the councils are here to stay even with the budget crises – and keep them moving forward on projects such as enhancing or curbing developments to what streets need paving.
For 15 years, Mavar –who served as the honorary mayor of San Pedro in 2002-2003, currently is a YMCA board member and volunteered for many other non-profits. He also held staff positions with Assembly Member Alan Lowenthal and Mayor Jim Hahn.
- Anthony Pirozzi, 44, a Boeing chief engineer who has lived in San Pedro nearly all his life, currently sits on the board of the San Pedro Chamber and is the vice president of Eastview Little League and touts his knowledgeable background in regards to the port of Los Angeles.
“No longer should the inefficiencies of local government be a barrier to local entrepreneurship,” he emailed. “The future of the Harbor Area is well positioned to attract knowledge based jobs in clean technology and research and development. Just as the Port of Los Angeles evolved from the canneries to containers in the 70’s and 80’s it must evolve to clean and efficient port operations.”-
If he runs, his plans include attempting to create more jobs in the Harbor Area through the port and to focus on making the streets safer and clean so residents can be proud of their community.
The city, he said, must lower taxes, fees and licensing costs that make it difficult for small business owners to even open their doors in Los Angeles. With one of the largest ports in the world, its time to move ahead to provide a cleaner environment for residents, which in turn, will aid in the production of more jobs.
- --Anthony Santich, 48, a West Coast Marketing and Sales Manager for Vopak Terminals North America, said the first item on his agenda will to be planning “a community mindset” and making better relations with the port.
“ These are two things our community has lacked for many years from the council office,” Santich wrote.
As a former San Pedro Chamber of Commerce member for six years and president in 2006-08, he wants to establish bring everyone to the table to work on collective goals for the community and fight for the fair share of city resources.
- James Weston, 33, an eight year resident who has managed Signs & Graphics Co. worked in San Pedro for 12 years , and plans to do many “feel good” community events for free – such as kite flying. He plans to run if he doesn’t find a council candidate to back and that he believes will do a good job.
“Most important to me, the councilperson has to have a passion for our community and the desire to work hard every day to improve it,” Weston said.
“This position is a great honor and should be a selfless one. This is not negotiable. Any candidate that does not exemplify this trait has to be ruled out no matter the resume they bring.”
He would bring that honor to the district, he said.
Diana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org