Los Angeles County voters will elect two supervisors and a district attorney on Nov. 3, as well as deciding on more than two dozen local measures, ranging from reform of county government to a police tax to authorizing card clubs on the Queen Mary and at Hollywood Park Race Track.
In the 2nd Supervisorial District, former Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and state Sen. Diane Watson are battling to become the first black person elected to the Board of Supervisors. Incumbent Kenneth Hahn, a supervisor since the waning days of the Truman Administration, is retiring from the district centered in South Los Angeles.
In the 4th Supervisorial District, Rolling Hills Mayor Gordana Swanson faces three-term incumbent Deane Dana. Her election would establish a women's majority on the county board.
The office of district attorney is still on the ballot, but the race effectively ended when incumbent Ira Reiner pulled out of the campaign, essentially handing the job to his former chief deputy, Gilbert L. Garcetti.
Countywide, three measures are on the ballot: creating an elected county executive, enlarging the Board of Supervisors and levying an assessment to fund park projects.
Los Angeles voters will decide on four measures, including proposed tax increases to pay for 100 additional police officers and upgrading the city's emergency communications system.
Voters in a dozen other cities and school districts also will decide on local issues, ranging from proposed term limits for municipal officials in Long Beach, Santa Monica and Torrance to a proposal in West Hollywood for that city to establish its own police force.
Area: Centered in South Los Angeles.
Population: 1.8 million.
Background: Supervisor Kenneth Hahn is retiring. His successor will be the first elected black supervisor.
Term: Four years.
Salary: $99,297 a year.
Duties: The Board of Supervisors, with a $13-billion budget, is responsible for a wide range of services, including operation of courts, jails, public hospitals, the Sheriff's Department and welfare programs.
Name: Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.
Born: Oct. 5, 1932
Residence: Ladera Heights.
Current position: Attorney with Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue.
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA; graduate of USC Law School.
Career highlights: First black woman elected to the California Assembly, in 1966. First black woman elected to Congress from California, in 1972. Lost state attorney general's race in 1978. Appointed to the Board of Supervisors in 1979 but lost election to Deane Dana in 1980. Currently serves on UC Board of Regents.
Family: Married to William Burke for 20 years, with two daughters.
Key Issues: Burke lists jobs and reform of county government as top priorities.
She has called for requiring competitive bidding on all county contracts for more than $50,000 and giving preference to Los Angeles County-based companies seeking county business--actions that she said would increase business opportunities for minority-owned firms.
"I am not a divisive, fighting-for-the-spotlight person," she says. She said her conciliatory style is more likely to produce results for the ethnically diverse district.
She also supports creation of a "community mediation council" staffed by volunteer attorneys to resolve conflicts among merchants, landlords and neighbors.
Burke supports ethics reform, a citizens board to review allegations of misconduct against the Sheriff's Department and term limits for supervisors.
Name: Diane E. Watson.
Born: Nov. 12, 1933.
Residence: Crenshaw district.
Current position: Democratic state senator. Education: Bachelor's degree in education from UCLA, master's in school psychology from Cal State Los Angeles and doctorate in educational administration from Claremont Graduate School
Career highlights: Teacher, principal and school psychologist. Elected to Los Angeles Board of Education in 1975. First black woman elected to the state Senate, in 1978.
Key Issues: She has said her top priorities are jobs, education and greater accountability for county spending.
Watson has advocated establishment of a county program to hire the unemployed, patterned after the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s.
She pledges to push for awarding county contracts to firms owned by minorities and women and to companies employing South-Central Los Angeles residents. She also supports creation of a citizens commission to review allegations of misconduct by sheriff's deputies.
She says that shielding health and welfare programs from budget cuts are her top priority. She also pledges to oppose layoffs of county workers.
Watson pledges to expand the supervisors' oversight of public education, noting that the county Office of Education "oversees all of the budgets of all schools in Los Angeles County."
Criticizing her opponent for moving into the district to run for the seat, Watson said: "I never tired of the people in South Los Angeles."