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Top candidates in L.A. council race could split San Pedro voters

The five hopefuls who have raised the most money in the race to replace Janice Hahn in the 15th District all have strong ties to the harbor community. The special election will be Nov. 8.

October 08, 2011|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

At Ports O'Call, an aging complex of restaurants and souvenir shops on the waterfront, the sidewalk is scattered with campaign signs for Jayme Wilson. He is part owner of a popular restaurant and harbor cruise company there. A former president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, he says if elected he will fight to make doing business in L.A. easier. He has raised $90,000, including $55,000 in personal loans, and is the only leading candidate who has opted not to accept matching funds from the city.

Wilson says frustration with the city is palpable in San Pedro, which is 25 miles south of City Hall but feels much farther away.

That said, talk of seceding from Los Angeles has cooled in recent years. No candidate in this race is running on the slogan that Assemblyman Vincent Thomas coined in 1948: "I hate L.A."

Wilson and other contenders have called on the city to help relocate two butane storage tanks that sit near a San Pedro residential neighborhood. A study commissioned by the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council found that if the tanks exploded, they could create a path of destruction nearly eight miles wide. The tank owners, however, say that scenario is highly unlikely.

The lobbying firm that has represented the company is owned by Svorinich. He looks different now from when he served two terms on the council. He has shaved his head and boasts bulging arm muscles, thanks to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu workouts he took up after leaving office because of term limits in 2001 (he is eligible to run for a third term because of changes to the City Charter).

A Republican, Svorinich says voters want a leader with experience to help close the city's estimated $400-million budget gap.

The other contenders are Frank Pereyda, Gordon Teuber, Justin Brimmer, Rebecca Chambliss, Candice Graham and John Delgado.

If no candidate receives 50% of the vote on Nov. 8, the top two vote-getters will go head-to-head in a runoff election on Jan. 17. The winner will arrive on the council just as next year's budget talks are heating up.

Photos: A look at the candidates and District 15

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