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Tim McOsker, former political aide and LAPD union lobbyist, launches bid for City Council

A man stands at a port.
Former mayoral aide and police union lobbyist Tim McOsker, shown in November, says he will run for Los Angeles City Council in the district that includes the Port of Los Angeles.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A lawyer, lobbyist and onetime aide to former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn is jumping into the race for a Watts-to-San Pedro seat on the City Council, reshuffling the campaign for the second time in a week.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, after nearly a decade in office, announced Monday he would not seek reelection in the port district and would instead run for mayor in June 2022. On Wednesday, attorney and nonprofit executive Tim McOsker launched his own campaign to replace Buscaino in the district, which takes in areas such as Wilmington, Harbor City and the Los Angeles harbor.

McOsker, 58, was a high-level aide to Hahn from 1997 to 2005, serving as chief of staff when Hahn was city attorney and later as mayor. More recently, he has worked as an attorney and registered city lobbyist, representing such clients as the hotel industry and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file police officers.

How that private-sector work will play out in a political campaign is unclear. After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, activists across the city pressed council members to defund the Los Angeles Police Department and shift the money to programs that help the city’s neediest, while also denouncing the police union for having too much political clout.

Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles recently launched a campaign against the Police Protective League, calling for the county’s powerful Federation of Labor to cut ties with the union. BLM-LA also has been staging weekly demonstrations outside the league’s offices, arguing the union should be dismantled and the LAPD abolished.

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L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former LAPD officer, is running for mayor in 2022, joining a field that includes City Atty. Mike Feuer.

In an interview, McOsker said he is running to help rebuild the city’s economy, take on the city’s homelessness crisis, address rising rents, and fix roads and other public works. The lifelong San Pedro resident said he supports efforts to “reimagine” public safety, shifting some tasks out of the LAPD if they can be done more effectively by other professionals, and in turn freeing up funds to address rising crime.

“My familiarity with the city in general, and with the Police Department in particular, is a positive,” he said. “Who better to help navigate the issues of constitutional policing and, if we are reimagining public safety, how we do so and keep our communities safe?”

McOsker also serves as chief executive of AltaSea, a research institute and business incubator at the Port of Los Angeles.

L.A. City Council candidate Bryant Odega.
(Courtesy Bryant Odega)

For now, the only other candidate in the race to replace Buscaino is Bryant Odega, an environmental activist who has argued that city leaders spend too much money on police. Odega, who resides in Harbor Gateway, said Wednesday that at least $100 million should be cut from the LAPD next year, with the proceeds moved into such programs as public housing, mental health counseling and public transportation.

In a city dealing with police brutality and police misconduct, having a lawyer for the police union join the council is “the last thing we need,” said Odega, a volunteer organizer with Sunrise Movement Los Angeles, an environmental and social justice group.

“I think it also begs the question: Who’s he going to be fighting for? Whose interests is he going to be pushing over others?” said Odega, who sits on the Harbor Gateway South Neighborhood Council.

Odega, 23, also supports a Green New Deal and has called for the cancellation of rent for every Angeleno who is unable to pay because of economic hardships brought on by the outbreak of COVID-19.

The race to replace Buscaino is one of eight council contests scheduled for next year. Six incumbents — Gil Cedillo, Bob Blumenfield, Monica Rodriguez, Curren Price, Mike Bonin and Mitch O’Farrell — have filed paperwork to run for another four-year term. In some of those races, incumbents are facing challenges from candidates running on a platform of cutting LAPD spending.

In the southwest San Fernando Valley, for example, high school teacher Yasmine Pomeroy is seeking to unseat Blumenfield, arguing that the LAPD budget is “bloated” and should be reduced, with the proceeds diverted to other needs. Blumenfield, for his part, was coauthor of a motion last year to have the city develop a system of sending unarmed crisis responders out to nonviolent calls, instead of armed police officers.

The other council race without an incumbent can be found on the Westside, where Councilman Paul Koretz is facing term limits. Koretz launched a bid last year to replace City Controller Ron Galperin, who is facing term limits himself.

Several council candidates have launched campaigns in Koretz’s Westwood-to-Encino district, including Jeff Ebenstein, a policy advisor to Koretz, and Katy Young Yaroslavsky, an aide to Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. She is also the daughter-in-law of Zev Yaroslavsky, the former councilman and county supervisor who represented the Westside for decades.


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