Candidates leap into race for Janice Hahn’s council seat

Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D- Gardena), right, argues with Assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine) last month.
(Hector Amezcua / McClatchy-Tribune)

Candidates eager to replace Janice Hahn on the Los Angeles City Council started throwing their hats into the ring even before Hahn declared victory in Tuesday’s special election for a South Bay congressional seat.

San Pedro firefighter Pat McOsker announced his campaign for council in an email to supporters at 10:49 p.m. Tuesday — even though less than 30% of the vote had been counted in the U.S. House race.

By Wednesday morning, at least three others had joined the contest, including a state assemblyman, a police officer and a former city councilman who once represented Hahn’s Watts-to-San Pedro district. The pack of candidates includes Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena), LAPD Officer and political newcomer Joe Buscaino and former City Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr.


Svorinich, who served on the council from 1993 to 2001 before being forced out because of term limits, now works as a lobbyist. He is eligible to run because of a 2006 ballot measure that allows council members a third term. He said he’s running to make sure that residents in the city’s southernmost district are not “shortchanged” by budget cuts in City Hall.

Furutani, who won his Assembly seat in a special election in 2008, said he is running for city government in part because he’s tired of the partisan politics in Sacramento. He said he thinks the race will heat up quickly: “It’s going to be a sprint.”

Once Hahn makes her resignation official, the council will declare her seat vacant and schedule a special election. The city clerk has recommended that the election be held Nov. 8, with a runoff, if necessary, Jan. 17.

On Wednesday, McOsker made his first campaign move when he announced an endorsement by the California Nurses Assn.

McOsker has never run for office, but as president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, he often appears before the council to advocate for firefighters. A native of San Pedro, he moved back to his hometown a month and a half ago from Redondo Beach, where he and his wife had been living.

A close ally of Hahn, McOsker has hired the same political consultant who ran her congressional campaign. He said if he is elected, he would focus on defending firefighters and police from further budget cuts.


Buscaino, an LAPD officer, has also pledged to make public safety a priority. In an email announcing his candidacy, he said: “Voters are ready for a political outsider in City Hall.”

Hahn is expected to get to work in Washington next week. Her departure will leave one woman on Los Angeles’ 15-member governing body, Councilwoman Jan Perry.