Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, still recovering from a serious stroke suffered last January, said Thursday he will seek election next year to an unprecedented 10th four-year term and will try to return to duty--at least part-time--by July 17.
Hahn's comments, made during a lengthy telephone interview, may have ended private speculation among some county officials that the veteran supervisor would relinquish his tight grasp on the supervisorial seat he has held since 1952. At the same time, he sent a signal to fellow liberal, Supervisor Ed Edelman, that he may not be alone during crucial budget hearings beginning in three weeks.
Edelman has been expressing concern for several weeks that he would be the lone voice for certain social programs that may face some trimming by the board's conservative majority.
"Yes, I plan to run for reelection," Hahn said. "There are all these needs to be met.
"This is still a democracy in America," added Hahn, who is 66. "If the people choose . . . an old person like (86-year-old Florida congressman) Claude Pepper or a young person like me, or a woman who's been in a hospital like (City Councilwoman-elect) Ruth Galanter or a young lawyer to be the city attorney of Los Angeles . . . that's the people's right in America." The "young lawyer" Hahn was referring to is his 36-year-old son, James.
Hahn said his return will depend largely on his doctor's advice, but he said: "I'll try to get in to the board for some of the hearings. In fact, I'm thinking of even slipping in some afternoon unannounced."
He added that he does not want to be "tied down to . . . a timetable," but said he hopes to be back "at least by July 17."
The veteran supervisor, who meets daily at his home with Mas Fukai, his chief deputy, said he still cannot walk unassisted, but is nevertheless improving with three-times-a-week therapy at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood. He said his left hand remains paralyzed.
Hahn said that despite his physical condition, if he senses that any of the programs in his district are in danger of being cut, "Naturally, I won't stand for that. If I have to go in a wheelchair, I'll be there."
Hahn suffered the stroke Jan. 11 and was released from the hospital April 10.
The supervisor was first elected to the board at age 30, after serving five years on the Los Angeles City Council. Hahn has been reelected by wide margins eight times in the heavily Democratic district that includes the communities of South-Central and Southwest Los Angeles, Inglewood, Culver City, Hawthorne and Lynwood.