L.A. City Council District 15 voter guide: Tim McOsker vs. Danielle Sandoval

L.A. City Council District 15 candidates Tim McOsker and Danielle Sandoval.
(Los Angeles Times)

After nearly a decade in office, Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino is stepping down as the representative of a district that stretches from the coastal neighborhood of San Pedro north to the South L.A. community of Watts. Buscaino ran unsuccessfully for mayor earlier this year, forfeiting his opportunity to run for a third term.

Now, the race to replace him pits Tim McOsker, an attorney with a lengthy history at City Hall, against Danielle Sandoval, a former restaurant owner who has served on two neighborhood councils — both in Council District 15.

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Who are the candidates?

McOsker, a lifelong San Pedro resident, has a background in local government, having served as the top aide to then-City Atty. James Hahn from 1997 to 2001. When Hahn was elected mayor, McOsker moved over to the mayor’s office, serving four years as Hahn’s chief of staff. He worked with Hahn on the hiring of a new police chief — William Bratton — and the campaign to defeat a ballot proposal that would have let the San Fernando Valley break away from L.A. and form its own city.

Despite those achievements, that period was fraught for the Hahn administration. State and federal prosecutors conducted investigations of contracting at City Hall, resulting in the conviction of one of Hahn’s airport commissioners on corruption charges. Also convicted were executives of a company found to have overbilled the Department of Water and Power.

After Hahn lost reelection, McOsker joined a high-powered law firm, picking up a number of clients with city business. As a registered lobbyist, he represented real estate developers, a hotel association, contractors and the union that represents rank-and-file police officers. In 2018, he became chief executive of AltaSea, a nonprofit focused on science, ocean sustainability and job creation at the Port of Los Angeles. He also serves on the board of Linc Housing, which builds affordable housing, and other nonprofits.

Sandoval has also been politically active, serving on two neighborhoods councils — one based in central San Pedro, another in L.A.’s Harbor City neighborhood. She was also a member of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates, which produces recommendations for city spending.

A resident of Harbor City, Sandoval has highlighted that volunteer work and discussed the economic hardships she has faced as a working mother and an entrepreneur. One of her businesses was Caliente Cantina, a restaurant that opened in downtown San Pedro in 2014 and closed within a year.


Sandoval’s business background came back to haunt her during the campaign, after The Times reported that the state’s labor commissioner found that Cantina Investments LLC, a company Sandoval helped form, failed to pay four of the restaurant’s workers — a violation commonly known as wage theft. Sandoval initially distanced herself from the business, then said she fired some of her workers for theft and drug use. After several supporters rescinded their endorsements, Sandoval apologized and began negotiating payment to those workers.

During the campaign, Sandoval has criticized McOsker over his lobbying work and the political support he has received from real estate groups. McOsker, in turn, has sent mailers to voters focusing on Sandoval’s wage theft woes — and the endorsers who fled her campaign after learning of those cases.


Where is District 15?

The district is probably the city’s most awkwardly shaped, mainly because it’s bordered by the Pacific Ocean and by other municipalities, such as Gardena and Carson. The district stretches from San Pedro, Wilmington and the Port of Los Angeles north through Harbor City, the slender strip of land known as Harbor Gateway and finally Watts.


Where candidates stand on LAPD spending

The Los Angeles Police Department has lost nearly 800 officers in recent years, a decrease of about 8%. McOsker said the department needs to start reversing that trend, by finding ways of slowing attrition and filling academy classes — adding at least 200 officers.


“I’m hearing constantly that folks don’t see patrols and they don’t have enough of a police presence in the community to address crime, and the potential for crime,” he said.

A spokesman for Sandoval said she would keep LAPD staffing at its current level, while working to move officers out from desk jobs and into patrols. (The department had 9,235 officers at the start of October.) In recent weeks, she has also touted her endorsement from David Gascon, a retired assistant chief of the LAPD.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s pro-police and pro-LAPD,” he said in an interview.


Where they stand on homelessness

Sandoval and McOsker both say the city needs more affordable housing and expanded mental health services. But they differ on the city’s controversial anti-encampment law, which prohibits tents from going up near schools, daycare centers and other facilities.

That law allows council members to designate certain locations — libraries, senior centers, freeway overpasses — as off limits to camping. It also requires that sidewalks provide 36 inches of clearance for wheelchair users.

McOsker said he would be open to changing the law so that it’s applied evenly throughout the city, not on a district-by-district basis. He also defended the idea that sidewalks should be kept clear in certain locations, such as at schools.


Sandoval contends the anti-encampment law criminalizes homelessness and was “rushed” to approval last year. She said she was homeless herself at one point, and therefore has a deeper understanding of the issue. Sandoval said she would seek to amend the anti-encampment law, but has not provided details on how she would change it.

California’s 2022 election ballot includes races for governor, attorney general, Legislature and Congress, local contests and statewide propositions.

Nov. 1, 2022



Sandoval has picked up support from figures across the ideological spectrum, ranging from former City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, who served from 2009 to 2013, to Councilmember-elect Eunisses Hernandez, who has called for the defunding or outright abolition of law enforcement agencies.

Sandoval is also backed by the two other candidates who ran for the seat in June — businessman Anthony Santich and environmental activist Bryant Odega.

However, because of the wage theft case, Sandoval lost the endorsements of groups that represent and support immigrants, teachers, the working poor, women candidates and others.


McOsker has endorsements from the California Democratic Party and an array of labor groups, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Locals 13, 63 and 94. He has the backing of the city’s police and firefighter unions and Unite Here Local 11, which represents hotel and restaurant workers.

The Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión has endorsed McOsker, as has Mayor Eric Garcetti and a majority of the City Council, including Buscaino. The Times editorial board, which operates separately from the newsroom, rescinded its endorsement of Sandoval over the wage cases and backed McOsker instead.


Past coverage

Two workers at a restaurant opened by L.A. City Council candidate Danielle Sandoval were owed $9,236 in pay, officials said. They received $5,052.

Oct. 20, 2022

L.A. City Council candidate Danielle Sandoval, after a week of defiant statements, said she takes “full responsibility” and is working to ensure workers who filed wage claims are paid.

Sept. 30, 2022

Three political groups have rescinded their support of council candidate Danielle Sandoval, following a Times report on wage claims targeting her restaurant.

Sept. 29, 2022


Ex-employees have pending wage-theft cases against restaurant that was opened by Danielle Sandoval.

Sept. 23, 2022

The Los Angeles law known as 41.18 limits where people can sleep and set up tents. Now it’s a major election issue.

Oct. 30, 2022

The rank-and-file police officers’ union is financially involved in five of 11 contests in Tuesday’s city election — and committing more money than any other group.

June 1, 2022

McOsker, 58, was a high-level aide to Mayor James Hahn, serving as chief of staff. More recently, he has worked as an attorney and registered city lobbyist.

March 17, 2021


L.A. Times Editorial Board Endorsement

The Times’ editorial page publishes endorsements based on candidate interviews and independent reporting. The editorial board operates independently of the newsroom — reporters covering these races have no say in the endorsements.


The L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for statewide ballot measures, elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, L.A. Unified School District board, L.A. county superior court, statewide offices, the state Legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.


How and where to vote

Ballots will be in the mail to all 22 million registered voters in the state no later than Oct. 10. Californians can return ballots by mail, drop them at collection boxes or turn them in at voting centers. They can also cast ballots early at voting centers or wait until Nov. 8 to vote at their neighborhood polling places.

Californians can register to vote or check their status at

Here’s how to vote in the California midterm election, how to register, what to do if you didn’t get mail ballot or if you made a mistake on your ballot.


Follow more election coverage

California voters head to the polls Nov. 8 to vote for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, and races for U.S. representative in Congress, state senator and state Assemblymember. Local races include who will be the Los Angeles mayor and L.A. County sheriff. There are seven ballot propositions for voters to decide on the table.

In the November midterm election, California is one of the battlefields as Democrats and Republicans fight over control of Congress.


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