Billions of dollars in international commerce flows annually through the Port of Los Angeles. Yet few Angelenos ever visit that vital city asset. Indeed, most are probably more familiar with the waterfront tourist meccas of neighboring Long Beach than they are with San Pedro, Lomita, Wilmington, Harbor City and Watts--the neighborhoods of the 15th City Council District.
Residents of the 15th District know the port all too well. And while many appreciate its economic benefits, they are acutely aware of how much needs to be done to make the port a better neighbor and to turn the city's waterfront into the attraction that Long Beach has made of its waterfront area.
The candidates running to replace 15th District Councilman Rudy Svorinich, who is stepping down due to term limits, have focused their campaigns on the port and on a complaint that harbor residents share with other far-flung parts of Los Angeles: that they do not get a fair share of city services. In fact, candidates in the 15th District argue that passions to secede from the city are more profound there than in the San Fernando Valley.
We will not quibble over this claim but only cite it as evidence of how important it is that the next council member from the harbor area be one who will both meet the needs of the district's residents and keep in mind the needs of the entire city. We believe that person is businesswoman Janice Hahn.
Hahn has the benefit of a name long associated with local government (her late father was a county supervisor and her brother is city attorney and a candidate for mayor). But Hahn's record of community service, including her yeoman work on the city's Charter Reform Commission, is evidence she is a candidate of substance in her own right. She is in touch with the district's concerns and problems.
At least one other candidate for the post has an impressive record of civic involvement and deep roots in the community--Hector Cepeda, a former aide to Svorinich. With the support of labor unions, which are key political players in the harbor area, Cepeda is a credible candidate who could serve residents effectively. But Cepeda could use more political experience and might even be more effective as a member of the Legislature, where he was most recently employed as an aide to a local assemblyman.
Hahn, someone with long community experience and knowledge of city government, is the better choice.