Janice Hahn is shown in a portrait taken at Los Angeles City Hall last summer. (Los Angeles Times )
The newly created 44th Congressional District sprawls from San Pedro to Watts and across to South Gate. Its many blue-collar communities have been hard hit by the economic downturn and share a need for jobs, safe and affordable housing, and a representative capable of pushing those priorities in Congress despite the political gridlock that has seized Washington.
The two candidates for the job, Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson, are incumbent Democratic members of the House, pitted against each other as a result of redistricting. Both are savvy and capable, but only one is poised to carry out the job without distractions or unwieldy political baggage. That's why The Times endorses Hahn.
Hahn arrived in Washington less than a year ago after winning a special election to fill the seat left vacant by Jane Harman's retirement in the 36th District. Though a freshman, she is no political novice. Not only is she the daughter of a former Los Angeles County supervisor and the sister of a former L.A. mayor, but she served three terms on the Los Angeles City Council and proved herself a capable advocate for voters. She is a committed environmentalist and a strong advocate for the poor. Though she has sometimes marched in lock-step with labor on proposals that this page has opposed — such as the portion of the Clean Truck Program that would have made it difficult for independent truckers to operate at the Port of L.A. — she has devoted herself to the communities she represents and is skillful at working across the aisle to get things done.
Richardson was elected in 2007 to fill the seat left vacant in the 37th District after Rep.Juanita Millender-McDonald's death. She is tenacious, passionate and knowledgeable and has used her assignment on the transportation committee to secure improvements to infrastructure in the district. But her ability to effectively champion those issues has been undermined by repeated questions about her ethics and her personal management style.
Richardson is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee over allegations that she pressured members of her legislative staff to work on her campaign on government time and against their will. She has denied the charges. She was cleared of another series of misconduct charges in 2010 after it was alleged that she received special treatment from a lender involving a foreclosed home she owned in Sacramento, and that she failed to disclose property and other income on congressional disclosure forms. Unfortunately, these ethics inquiries have required her to spend time and resources clearing her name that she could otherwise have been using to do the business of her constituents.
Residents of the 44th District deserve a representative whose attention and energies will be spent fighting for them, not fending off inquiries and allegations.
JUNE 5 PRIMARY: Find all recommendations by The Times' editorial board