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Race is on for the 15th District Council seat


If everyone who filed their nominating petition by Monday’s cutoff date for the 15th Council District special election on Nov. 8 qualifies, 14 people could find themselves jockeying to stand out from the crowd.

That potentially crowded field includes two former L.A. City Council members (Robert Farrell and Rudy Svorinich Jr.), one sitting Assemblyman (Warren Furutani), two women (Rebecca Chambliss and M. Candice Graham), one young emerging African American politician (Justin I. Brimmer) and a handful of other individuals with various claims and connections to the district.

The 15th District stretches north to Watts and south to San Pedro and includes the communities of Harbor City, Harbor Gateway and Wilmington. It is an overwhelmingly Democratic area, with a little more than 57,000 of the more than 102,900 registered voters claiming that as their party.  A little more than 18,600 are Republicans and a nearly equal number are declined-to-state voters.

According to Political Data Inc., African Americans represent about 17.5 percent of registered voters; Spanish surname (Latino) make up 37.3 percent while Asians represent about 4.9 percent of voters.

When it comes to issues of concern, there is a marked dichotomy between the northern and southern portions of the district, believes Harold Hambrick, a longtime business owner in the community.

“The major issues start first with jobs and employment,” said Hambrick, adding that is especially the case for young people in the northern portion of the 15th District.

“. . . in the last few days, I found out that Watts has more young folk (ages 16 to 25) than any other part of the city.”

That demographic fact may play into another observation that Hambrick made: “there is a gap in understanding and knowledge of the political process in the northern portion of the district.

“In years past, we were little more politically astute. We were on top of the issues, and politicians were a little more aggressive when it came to contact with the voting population,” Hambrick said.

Another issue that has already come up, although final nominating papers were due Monday, is the topic of “carpetbagging.” Some in the southern portion of the district, as evidenced by letters to the editor printed in other publications, seem acutely attuned to the idea that a candidate needs to have deep roots in the community rather that moving in as a Johnny-come-lately.

That bias could have an impact on the campaigns of some of the veteran politicians.

Meanwhile, the next step in the process is establishing the certified list of candidates no later than Sept. 22 by the L.A. City Clerk, and then it’s off to the races. If no candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote on Nov. 8, the top two candidates will face off on Jan. 17.