Monday, August 08, 2011

 Whom Should We Pick Among the Candidates—Including the Usual and Unusual Suspects —to Replace Janice Hahn? Despite 15 Who Have Joined the Fray, the List Begins to Narrow Down Quite Easily

By Diana L. Chapman

Old guys jostling to make a comeback. New guys vying for the dream. Big egos snapping at each other like a pack of dogs. No gals have joined the race so far to grab the Los Angeles City Council seat vacated recently by Janice Hahn, who departed for Congress last month.

Somehow, the whole thing reminds me of the children’s book: Where the Wild Things Are (!)

So who has joined the race? A mixed bag of 15 men: two former council members, a state assembly member and political novices. Some have had to move into the district to make it legal to run in the Nov. 8 special election, which is expected to cost us taxpayers as much as $1.5 million. The runoff, if necessary, would be in January.

At least three have moved only recently to the San Pedro area to qualify.  Chop, chop, chop!  They are off my list.

I’m scratching off any candidate who has left the 15th District (which includes Watts, Wilmington, Harbor City, the Harbor Gateway and San Pedro). To sum things up, if they don’t want to live in the district in the first place, they shouldn’t bother to run.

They obviously don’t love it here. They’re more interested in a pursuing position of power that pays $178,000 a year.

Why should we vote for someone moving in when they are most likely out of touch from a resident’s point of view?

On the list of the “Oh, I got to move back to the district to get the plum job,” are:

--Former Council member and current lobbyist Rudy Svorinich Jr., who served from 1993 to 2001. He lived in Rolling Hills Estates but recently moved to the Averill Park area, according to the Daily Breeze. Evidently he already has a big campaign war chest and finished first in a recent poll conducted by another candidate. (Scratched off my list).

--Gordon Teuber, Hahn’s economic development director, also moved here from the Peninsula. I don’t even need to go into the details of how many residents he didn’t help when he made it easier for an unwanted 7-Eleven store to move into Pacific Avenue in San Pedro as well as the controversial expansion of the Taco Bell on Gaffey Street.  Residents and business owners there still don’t know what’s going on. (Scratched off my list).

--Political newcomer Pat McOsker, who leads the City’s firefighters union, lives in Redondo Beach but moved to San Pedro so he could run. He was born and raised in San Pedro, he told me. I don’t know him. But again, I want to vote for someone who already lives in my district and understands – and truly cares about –what it’s like being tied to an enormously bureaucratic, ineffective city like Los Angeles. (Scratched off my list.)

I’m not very anxious to elect political hacks who have been running from one job to the next while not doing much solid work.

I’m ready for fresh blood. That’s what’s going to make me bite. Of course, candidates have until Aug. 22 to file, so there may be more to come.

Veteran political observers say Svorinich and Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena) have the best chance to win. They have campaign funds and name recognition.  Furutani has some union backing.  Still, I don’t think we have to take it lying down. We can rally around a fresh candidate.

In an earlier post, I spelled out what I’m looking for in my new council member: a visionary who can pull our communities together and represent the entire Harbor Area.

So also off my list are the following:

·        Furutani.  He’s already had his shot at being a board member of Los Angeles Unified,  the L.A. community college district and an assemblyman.  At least he already lives in Harbor City. But he’s hasn’t accomplished anything earth- shattering during his Assembly term, representing the 55th District that includes Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Wilmington, north and west Long Beach, Carson and Lakewood. It just seems like Furutani, a career politician, is job-hopping.

·        Former Los Angeles Councilman Robert Farrell, a San Pedro resident (thanks for that!), who represented the 8th  District in southwest Los Angeles from 1974-1991.  I’ve heard he’s a nice man who does a lot of community service work. But I’m still looking for someone new, someone ready to tackle the old guard in the ivory towers downtown.

·        Another candidate reminds me too much of the old-guard, a well-connected businessman who has too much at stake in the status quo.   Jayme Wilson, owner of the Ports O’Call restaurant and Spirit Cruises, are both docked at the Port of Los Angeles. He remains a heavy-hitting businessman in this whale of a town and is involved in the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce.  That may not be bad in itself, but the same people have run the chamber for what seems like forever and have too much clout in this town. All of that eliminates him from my list.

Who’s left?

Newcomers running for the first time include Los Angeles Senior Lead Police Officer Joe Buscaino; San Pedro Democratic Club President David Greene; John Mavar, a longshoreman who serves on the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council;  Justin Brimmer, a deputy in Hahn’s district office, and Kenneth Melendez, a longtime Wilmington activist who served on a  waterfront advisory committee and lives in Harbor City.

Others declared candidates include Mervin L. Evans of Wilmington; James T. Law;  Kambiz Mostofi, a San Pedro education activist and entrepreneur, and DeWayne Stark, who retired from the computer industry and lives on a boat in San Pedro after moving here several years ago.

More on those folks—and whoever else might jump on board to surf Los Angeles political waves—later.


Alive Surfing said...

Interesting commentary, I can't say I agree with all of it. But that's what make us all unique, we all have our reasons for voting the way we do :)
BUT, and this is a big much as I love Joe Buscaino, and I bet he would be fantastic at anything he does....I'm so hesitant to see him pursue that position when he has done so well in his leadership role with our local police force. We need him to keep doing what he is already doing, because no one else is going to do it or do it as well most likely :(

mteague said...

Carpetbaggers. That's what several of those people are.
I know both John Mavar and Joe Busciano, and I can say from decades of experience, they are very committed to San Pedro and really want what is best for the town. Both unselfish and considerate people. Joe, whom I know slightly better, is one of the kindest, most polite and thoughtful people I have ever met, and has been since junior high.

DeWayne Stark said...

I have a Dewey Weber longboard and I still surf...

DeWayne Stark said...

I would also use the term "Carpetbaggers" to describe those who have recently met the deadline by changing their address to one within the district 15. Not everybody is familar with the term. I first heard it in my college history class covering the civil war and later the term was made popular with Harold Robbins great novel "The Carpetbaggers" (1961)which is based on a combination of Hughes and Lear.

Russell Jeans said...

I like Stark's surfing comment. Otherwise, some topics I'm interested in are the candidates' views of what city government functions are (some problems Hahn had were reflected in her early position on Walmart and her strategy to help some woman who complained about a crane blocking her bridge view). Budget thinking. Priorities on services. Business climate for the city. For a desirable candidate, these are broad topics that require knowledgeable answers which are not just pulled out of a hat. I hope the public discussion pulls the campaign for office in this direction to help me be confident in making a good decision.

Anonymous said...

I like Joe, he IS a very nice guy. But nice guys are not going to win at City Hall for the area. We need someone who is willing and able to take on the rest of the council and the city and STAND up to bring the Harbor area around. Joe's not a fighter, all of his training is smoothing things over and as great a guy as he is, we will be in worse trouble than we are now. He belongs where he is, in the PD.