A year and a month is hardly enough time on which to base an adequate assessment of a City Council member, but in the case of Joe Buscaino, it will have to do. Buscaino was elected in January 2012 to finish out what was left of the term of
There was little doubt that the new councilman would be embraced by his hometown. Every council member from the 15th District, as long has it has existed, has lived in San Pedro and enjoyed a base of support there. The community needs a strong advocate in City Hall to finally realize its potential, but the problem has always been the degree to which the representative of that part of town does anything at all for neighborhoods in even greater need, especially in Wilmington and Watts.
So the biggest, and most pleasant, surprise about Buscaino is the degree to which he has been all over those communities, listening, learning, meeting constituents and understanding their needs. Soon after being sworn in, he spent a night at the Jordan Downs public housing project in Watts, and the gesture was for the most part appreciated by the residents there, although of course there was some concern that it was a one-time appearance.
He is seen often in a hard hat or a yellow vest, and, more to the point, he is often seen around his district. This is a councilman who appears to understand pothole-by-pothole community service. It may be that he has a little bit of Kenny Hahn in him. Perhaps a little Tom LaBonge.
And pretty much everything he does ends up on video. Other council members use online video as well, but none so much as Buscaino. He may be Los Angeles' first
It's a good start. And that's important because unless he leaves to run for some higher office, Buscaino is liable to be on the City Council until 2025. That's one of the problems with term limits, a supremely bad idea. Voters often see limits as a way to keep politicians from becoming entrenched, but it has had much the opposite effect because would-be challengers (except the occasional James T. Law) rarely bother running against an incumbent and instead wait for the easier ride, when the office becomes vacant.