L.A. City Council District 15 recap
In advance of the Jan. 17 special election runoff for the 15th City Council district, and as part of our process for endorsing a candidate, the Los Angeles Times editorial board interviewed candidates Joe Buscaino and Warren Furutani and re-familiarized itself with the district and its challenges. That alone is not unusual; but this time we put a lot of the process on the Opinion L.A. blog so readers could join us. Here's a recap of our posts:
Endorsements and the Jan. 17 runoff: The Times endorsed Gordon Teuber in the Nov. 8 primary. It didn't do him much good; he came in sixth in a field of 11. Here's our endorsement process for the runoff and notice that the editorial board interviews will be on the record, recorded and shared with our readers.
About the district: Redistricting comes and goes, but the 15th District stays the same: San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Watts, and a smidgen of South L.A. Check out city maps of the district through the ages. Both candidates are Democrats (although Buscaino is a former Republican) and both were born in San Pedro (although Furutani has lived in Harbor Gateway for 20 years).
Questions, and frustration: The editorial board questioned the candidates about how they planned to help balance the city budget while providing residents with the services they have become used to. What would they cut? What taxes would they raise? The answers were disappointing, as revealed in these audio clips and partial transcripts.
Voting now underway: The actual date of the election means less each year as more voters mark their ballots early and send them in by mail. That affects how campaign money is raised and spent. It's Dec. 20, a month before voting day, but voters are already doing their work.
When Warren met Joe: More audio outtakes and partial transcripts, this time of each candidate's recollection about meeting the other at San Pedro High School in the 1990s, when Buscaino was student body president and Furutani was on the school board. Also, what the candidates think of each other.
Watts and Not Watts: Three portions of the 15th District used to be independent cities, including Watts, in the northernmost part. This section has more than its share of public housing projects, street gangs and failed schools. The unnamed, or many-named, adjacent section to the west is plagued with forlorn brownfields. Both inland communities battle for recognition in this harbor-oriented district.
Harbor Gateway, the city on a shoestring: The "shoestring" strip of Los Angeles, actually two distinct strips with a sort of knot in the middle, has an identity crisis -- many residents believe they live in adjacent Torrance or Gardena. The area has Superfund cleanup sites where artificial rubber and DDT used to be manufactured.
Harbor City, the city not on the harbor: Harbor City hangs between two worlds: The tony or at least comfortably middle class region of South Bay cities like Lomita next door to the west, and the gang-plagued parts of Los Angeles just to the north. Lake Machado is part of a network of polluted, but still vital, wetlands.
Wilmington and the air that it breathes: The working-class, waterfront community of Wilmington must contend with refineries, oil wells, recycling centers and the Port of Los Angeles. They all provide desperately needed jobs -- and an environment so toxic that schools must install special air filters. It has become a center of the environmental justice movement.
The candidates on the Housing Authority: You can tell a lot about a candidate from the way he or she discusses a recent issue that has people up in arms. Are they right to be angry? What is the real nature of the problem? More audio of editorial board discussions with Buscaino and Furutani -- and more disappointment.
How to judge the winner: More audio outtakes, this time of the candidates discussing how their success or failure should be evaluated after the victor seeks reelection having served the 18 months of Janice Hahn's unfinished tenure.
Buscaino and the council cop bloc: If elected, Buscaino would be one of four police officers (current, retired or reserve) serving on the 15-member council. What does that mean for Los Angeles -- if anything?
The Capitol contingent: If elected, Furutani would be one of six former state legislators serving on the 15-member council. What does that mean for Los Angeles -- if anything?
Who's donating to Buscaino, Furutani? Most of Buscaino's campaign donations have come from inside the 15th District, especially San Pedro. Most of Furutani's come from outside the district -- re-gifted from the campaign committees of fellow elected officials, or contributed by Asian Americans around the nation.
How uncoordinated are the candidates? Labor unions are donating thousands of dollars to both candidates as independent expenditures. Buscaino's help comes from the Police Protective League and the leader of the DPW workers' union. Furutani has help from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, plus the county Democratic Party.
That Maurice Wills? The Dodger great goes to bat for Buscaino. Plus other video offerings from the websites and Facebook pages of both campaigns.
-- Robert Greene
Photos: From top, credit: Robert Greene / Los Angeles Times; Fifth from top, ballots. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; Sixth from top, Warren Furutani. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press; 10th from top, Wilmington. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times. 13th from top, Dennis Zine and Bernard Parks. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times. 14th from top, Antonio Villaraigosa and Hal Wesson. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times. 17th from top: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times. All others, Robert Greene / Los Angeles Times