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Supervisor Dana Plans to Retire in '96, Endorses Top Aide as Successor : Politics: Sixteen-year L.A. County board veteran says it's 'time to move on.' Early announcement means Don Knabe can start campaigning now, observers say.

November 15, 1994|RICHARD SIMON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Continuing the game of political musical chairs being played at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Deane Dana has announced that he plans to retire when his term expires in 1996 and that he supports his chief deputy, Don Knabe, to be his successor.

"I believe this is the time to move on," Dana, a supervisor for 16 years, said in a letter sent to supporters last week.

Dana, a 68-year-old former telephone company manager and Republican Party activist, rode President Ronald Reagan's landslide victory in 1980 to a seat on the then all-white, all-male county board controlled by like-minded conservatives.

Today, the five-member board is made up of two women--one Latina and one African American--and dominated by Democrats. In recent years, longtime Supervisors Pete Schabarum and Kenneth Hahn have left the board and Ed Edelman is due to retire next month. Supervisor Mike Antonovich plans to seek reelection in 1996, an aide said. The supervisors have no term limits.

In 1992, Dana survived a tough challenge from Rolling Hills Mayor Gordana Swanson in the 4th District, which stretches along the coast from Malibu to Long Beach and inland to Diamond Bar. During the campaign, Dana was criticized for allowing county bureaucrats to approve lucrative pension benefits for supervisors and senior county officials and for being chauffeured in a bulletproof car that cost $74,000.

"I believe much has been accomplished in bringing more efficient and responsive government to the county," Dana said in his letter. "However, I also believe this is the time to move on and assure continuity by electing my chief deputy Don Knabe supervisor of the 4th District."

Knabe has served as a Cerritos councilman and as Dana's campaign manager.

Dana's announcement caught some by surprise because it is unusual for incumbents to declare themselves lame ducks two years before their terms expire. Some say that the lame-duck status limits an incumbent's effectiveness. Political observers said they believe that Dana made his announcement early to give Knabe an opportunity to begin campaigning.

In his 1980 campaign, Dana plastered the picture of Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a black appointed to the board, in mailers sent to voters in the predominantly white district. Burke was elected in 1992 to succeed Hahn, and she now serves on the board with Dana.

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