The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors routinely confronts vexing, billion-dollar problems of the kind more typically handled by state governments or small nations. The sheer size of the county, the most populous in America, and the unrelenting flow of red ink contribute to crisis after crisis.
Each supervisor represents more than 1 million constituents, more than some U.S. senators, in districts that are among the most racially, ethnically and economically diverse in the country. Managing this mix is an awesome task, particularly in troubled economic times.
Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke of the 2nd District has made good use of the lessons she learned in Congress on the House Appro- priations Committee. Burke is running unopposed this year. Supervisor Mike Antonovich of the 5th District, facing a relatively unknown opponent, is also expected to win reelection. The Times makes no endorsement in that race.
The only open supervisorial seat on the March 26 primary ballot is in the 4th District, which includes Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Long Beach, other beach communities and cities such as Whittier, Norwalk and Signal Hill. The retiring 4th District supervisor is Deane Dana, who has been on the board since 1980.
For 4th District supervisor, the Times recommends Gordana Swanson. This former mayor of Rolling Hills and board member of the transit district would complement the other belt-tighteners on the board. Now a businesswoman and a strong environmentalist, she would ably represent the diverse district.
Swanson represents a sharp break from the clubby, old-fashioned politics of Dana. She forced him into a runoff four years ago after relentlessly attacking the excesses of then-County Administrative Officer Richard Dixon, who had lavishly redecorated his office and masterminded a plan to spike the pensions of the county's highly paid managers during Dana's lethargic watch.
Swanson advocates reducing the bloated salaries of the county's top tier, eliminating such perks as drivers for supervisors and reining in cellular phone accounts charged to public funds. She also decries Dana's shameless deal that practically gave away Marina Del Rey. Though owned by the county, it is being operated more for the benefit of a handful of leaseholders who are major campaign contributors than for the public.
Swanson faces a formidable field of candidates to succeed Dana. The group includes Don Knabe, Dana's veteran chief deputy, who demonstrates a broad and facile knowledge of county operations. Unfortunately, his campaign chest is loaded with contributions from the usual special interest players; that central fact does not indicate he would be much different in office than Dana has been. Another major contender, Douglas Drummond, has experience from his tenure on the Long Beach City Council and that city's Police Department, but little beyond Long Beach. The Times endorses Gordana Swanson.