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VOTER GUIDE / 55th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

Furutani is expected to win the runoff election

The victor will fill a vacant seat and will face a new campaign next November.

January 20, 2008|Paloma Esquivel | Times Staff Writer

Democrat Warren Furutani is the overwhelming favorite in the Feb. 5 special election for the vacant 55th Assembly District seat, but he'll need to run again later this year if he wants to keep the post for more than a few months.

The special election was called when Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) captured the 37th Congressional District seat left vacant by the death last year of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald. Richardson had defeated Furutani for the Assembly seat in 2006 and held the position for less than a year.

Last month, Furutani was the top vote-getter in the special primary, but he fell just short of the simple majority that would have enabled him to take the seat without a runoff.

Still, political experts consider the runoff, the state's only legislative race on Feb. 5, a formality. The district, which includes Carson, much of Long Beach and parts of south Los Angeles, is heavily Democratic. Furutani's only opponents are Libertarian nominee Herb Peters, a retired aerospace engineer from Carson, and the American Independent candidate, Charlotte Sadiyah Gibson, a nurse from Long Beach.

"There's not even a Republican on the ballot," said Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target Book on state political races. "There's no organized opposition to the election of Warren Furutani."

Peters got about 6% of the primary vote and Gibson about 4%.

Furutani, who lives in the Harbor Gateway area of Los Angeles, is a consultant on education and Asian American issues for state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles). Furutani served two terms on the Los Angeles Unified School District board and was recently elected to a third term on the Los Angeles Community College District board.

Peters said education is "priority No. 1." He proposed a voucher system that would allow students to use government subsidies to go to private schools. Gibson could not be reached for comment.

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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