Veteran lawmakers vie for 35th state Senate seat. Elections in California sometimes take on the feel of a game of musical chairs.
Take the South Bay’s 35th state Senate District race. Isadore Hall was representing the 64th Assembly District when Roderick Wright resigned from the Senate after a criminal conviction for living outside his district, so Hall set his sights on the upper house and won a special election in December 2014 to replace Wright.
But within a month, Hall was ready for his next political act.
When U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn announced she’d vacate her 44th Congressional District seat to run for outgoing Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s job, Hall decided to run for Hahn’s soon-to-be-vacant congressional district.
Now, two veteran Democratic lawmakers who have been on the sidelines for a bit— Steven Bradford and Warren Furutani — have turned their sights on running for Hall’s barely-warm 35th Senate District seat in Tuesday’s primary.
No wonder it’s hard for voters to keep up.
Two other candidates — Republican Charlotte Svolos and Democrat Isaac Galvan — also are running to represent the district that straddles the 110 Freeway and stretches north to Watts and south to the Port of Los Angeles. It includes all or parts of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Long Beach, Watts, San Pedro and Torrance.
The district’s more than 455,000 registered voters lean overwhelmingly Democratic — 60 percent compared to 13.9 percent Republican and 21 percent with no party preference.
With such a lopsided party registration, it’s likely that the November runoff will be between two Democrats.
Svolos listed herself as a special education teacher on the ballot. According to her website, she graduated from Leuzinger High School, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State Dominguez Hills and works in the Torrance Unified School District.
Galvan, 26, was the first Latino elected to the Compton City Council three years ago and lists his top priorities as job creation, increasing the state’s investment in higher education and reducing greenhouse emissions. In February, one of his brothers was killed and another wounded in a shooting in East Los Angeles.
Bradford and Furutani, the best known and most heavily funded candidates in the race, both participated in a May 15 League of Women Voters debate in Torrance, responding to questions about a range of issues from climate change to crime.
Neither Svolos nor Galvan turned out for the debate — Svolos sent a message that she could not attend due to illness — and neither could be reached by the Daily Breeze for interviews.
Bradford and Furutani are both familiar faces in the South Bay, having lived in the area for all or most of their lives and with long resumes of public service. Bradford, who has been endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, leads in fundraising, with $694,327 reported in the last cycle; Furutani, endorsed by Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, has raised $589,919.
Bradford, 56, moved to Gardena with his family when he was 9 years old, attending local schools and graduating from Gardena High. He then attended San Diego State University and Cal State Dominguez Hills, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a certificate in paralegal studies.
He was the first black elected to the Gardena City Council, where he served for more than 12 years. Bradford also has served as a public affairs executive for Southern California Edison and IBM and was a program director at the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.
“I was elected 19 years ago at a time when the city of Gardena was on the brink of bankruptcy,” Bradford said in his debate remarks. By the time he left, he said, the city had $8.5 million in the bank and added 38 sworn police officers, bringing the force back up to its 100-member level. “We did all of that without raising one tax or laying anyone off.”
Bradford captured an Assembly in a 2009 special election and was re-elected in 2010, representing the newly drawn 62nd District that included El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, Marina del Rey, West Athens, Westchester and Venice Beach.
Furutani, 68, most recently served in the state Assembly representing the 55th District before he was termed out in 2012.
Born in San Pedro and a Gardena High School graduate, Furutani earned his bachelor’s degree from Antioch University and in 1987 became the first Asian Pacific American elected to the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District representing the South Bay-Harbor Area. He served as board president in 1991. He was elected to the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees in 1999.
Education has long been a cornerstone theme of Furutani’s. He advocates vocational as well as academic opportunities as the best way to curb crime and prepare young people for good jobs. He proposes building “a statewide technical education system” and offering two years of free community college for all students. He also advocates creating a maritime university in the South Bay.
Among his top issues, Bradford lists providing health care for all, expanding immigrant rights and ensuring public safety.
“We ought to promote policies that help low-level, nonviolent offenders get services that help them reintegrate into society, learn a skill and get a job,” he states on his website. “Studies show that doing so will put these people in a position less likely to offend and break the law again.”