Wednesday, November 02, 2011

15 Candidates Jostle for Position in the CD 15 Election Line

CityWatch, Nov 1, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 87

RETHINKING LA - There is no shortage of aspirational leadership in the race to fill the empty city council seat that represents district 15, a meandering piece of real estate that stretches from Watts through the Gateway to Wilmington, Harbor City, and San Pedro.

The City Clerk has certified 11 candidates for the ballot plus 4 write-in candidates for a total of 15 candidates who are all vying for the city council seat that was vacated when Janice Hahn was elected to Congress this past summer.

10 of the 15 candidates appeared at the Watts Neighborhood Council Forum this past Saturday and demonstrated that the real challenge in this race is the need to stand out from the pack.

The field includes 2 ex-City Councilmembers, 2 CD15 staffers, an Assemblyman, a Police Officer, a Fireman, realtors, local business operators, and one who simply wants San Pedro to secede from the City of Los Angeles.

The race for the CD15 seat opened hard with Assemblyman Furutani and Union President Pat McOsker grabbing the reins only to be challenged by ex-Councilman Rudy Svorinich and surprised by LAPD Officer Joe Buscaino.

While those four candidates built huge war-chests and jostled for the attention of voters, several of the other candidates slowly found their rhythm and suddenly the race started to get very interesting. No longer was this simply a battle between moneyed insiders with connections, it was now a free-for-all in a crowded field.

The Watts Neighborhood Council CD15 Forum offered voters a chance to see the candidates in action and the candidates put on a show that was light on surprises but heavy in options, confirming to all that this race could go in any direction.

Jayme Wilson took on the big question “What about Watts?” and gave an answer that could be applied to any neighborhood, “I’m not going to tell this community or any other community what their priorities are, I’m going to listen and work with the neighborhood councils and community groups to understand the priorities. My job as City Councilman will be to find the money to do the things you want.”

Justin Brimmer attacked “the rule of 15” that divides city resources into even piles regardless of need and gave a compelling argument for his promise to implement a triage system that addresses need when delivering city services to local communities.

Wilson and Brimmer are strong performers in the race as evidenced by the informal polling of Experience San Pedro which give the race to Wilson while last week’s Harbor Area Neighborhood Council Forum straw poll gave the race to Brimmer.

Gordon Teuber found his footing when asked about the housing projects in Watts, taking time to attack Housing Department salaries, allay the fears of current residents who worry about displacement, and proceeding to lay a plan down for helping local residents buy and restore foreclosed properties.

John Delgado travels with his charming family and takes an “everyman” approach to the race, calling on the public to “Lean on me!” and to hold him accountable as he promises to work collaboratively to develop “One District, One Community, One Vision” for CD15.

Candice Graham brings passion to the race and she showed up early and stayed late, talking to any within earshot of her ideas on everything from jobs to crime to gangs to the economy.

Ex-Councilman Robert Farrell leads the field of 4 write-in candidates and his comments at the forum ranged from the circumstances that kept him in qualifying for the ballot to his support for two of the ballot qualifying candidates.

James T. Law qualified as a write-in candidate just days before the forum and his presence at the Watts Forum was a refreshing balance of idealistic passion and humble servitude.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters [link] was in the audience and several candidates took the time to give her a nod, demonstrating the complex nature of the many relationships that must work together in order to prevail in the CD15 race.

On November 8, voters will take to the polls to choose between a half-dozen front runners who are closely tailed by several candidates in position to capitalize on the common ground competition. If no candidate claims a majority of votes on the 8th, the top two candidates will then move to the Special CD 15 Runoff Election on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

The Watts Neighborhood Council CD15 Forum was co-hosted by the Watts Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club and covered everything from jobs, housing, transportation, public safety, gang activity, pension reform, the delivery of city services, and economic development. Videos of the event are available on YouTube.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: .)

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