By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Two stellar candidates we’d happily endorse — the better of whom, we believe, is Eric Garcetti.
15th DISTRICT — HECTOR CEPEDA
Republican Rudy Svorinich will soon be history in this harbor-to-Watts district, and a Democrat will succeed him in office. Like so many races in this year’s runoff, the contest pits a mainstream Democrat against a progressive one — in this instance, Janice Hahn against Hector Cepeda.
Janice Hahn — daughter of Kenny, sister of Jim — is no stranger to elections in this part of town, having narrowly lost this seat to Svorinich in ’93, and narrowly lost a congressional race here as well. She’s a garden-variety business Democrat, who until recently worked as a government-affairs liaison for the friendly folks at Southern California Edison. She’d be a clear improvement on Rudy Svorinich, but that’s no great achievement.
After putting himself through school, harbor homeboy Hector Cepeda went to work for the vibrant, progressive Longshoremen’s Union and soon became the director of the Harry Bridges Institute, the union’s educational arm. He’s also been a staffer for Svorinich, and for Democratic Assemblymen Alan Lowenthal and Antonio Villaraigosa.
Cepeda, now 33, has a keen understanding of the ways in which the harbor has been made to serve larger business interests rather than those of the surrounding communities; he contrasts its sprawl to that of other ports, such as Singapore, which turn around a high volume of shipping in a fraction of the space. His analysis of the LAPD is equally detailed, while his commitment to expanding the scope of the living wage is exactly what the city needs. He’d make an excellent council member, and has our enthusiastic support.
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION
DISTRICT NO. 4 — MARLENE CANTER
Until just a couple months before the primary, Westside incumbent Valerie Fields was one of Mayor Riordan’s school-board darlings, but he dumped her over her support for the teachers’ pay raise in the new district contract. Her opponent, Marlene Canter, a wealthy businesswoman, is waging a self-financed campaign, a rarity in school-board elections.
Canter, 52, is smart and driven, and combines judgment and energy with a sound background in both education and business. With her former husband, she built a startup into a multimillion-dollar company that specialized in teacher training — one of the school district’s most pressing needs.
Fields, 74, is a veteran of L.A. liberal politics, having served many years in Tom Bradley’s administration. She was the only member of the pre-Riordan board to oppose the contract extension of former Superintendent Ruben Zacarias. Today, she strongly supports Superintendent Roy Romer and his education program. However, we feel she often was too detached from specific problems at school sites, and her thinking on some matters, including potential solutions to the severe classroom shortage, has been too rigid and uncreative.
The choice between Fields and Canter is a close one, but we believe that Canter’s expertise and energy will be a more welcome addition to the board.
LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
OFFICE NO. 6 — SAMUEL “JOEY” HILL
Samuel J. “Joey” Hill, an accomplished and progressive senior staffer for state Senator Kevin Murray, would give the community colleges a representative who knows his way around state politics. He also would be the board’s only African-American member.
SPECIAL ELECTION, UNITED STATES
32nd DISTRICT — DIANE WATSON
The real contest to succeed longtime Congressman Julian Dixon, who died suddenly last November, occurred in the April primary, when former state Senator Diane Watson handily dispatched her rivals. In her 20 years in the Legislature, Watson played a leading role in health and welfare issues — increasing funding for child care and slapping a dime tax on cigarettes way back in 1982. Today, however, her focus on a number of key issues has grown fuzzy at the fringes. While she will not likely be a progressive leader in Congress, she will at least be a reliably liberal vote.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES MEASURES
A — YES
There are currently several LAPD and firefighter pension funds, and this measure permits the city to use the surplus in one to cover the liability of another, should such a disparity arise. It also creates a new benefit tier that increases payments from 50 percent for retirees with 20 years service to 90 percent for retirees with 33 years service, better enabling the forces to hang on to their most experienced members.
B — YES
In 1996, city voters passed a measure enabling widows and widowers of city firefighters and police officers to keep collecting their “surviving spouse” benefits if they remarry. Proposition B enables surviving spouses who remarried before ‘96 to regain their eligibility for benefits, too.