Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin fought back tears Tuesday as he voted in favor of a longtime port area resident to the Board of Harbor Commissioners to replace his late father-in-law, who died in January after a battle with thyroid cancer.

David Arian, who was 72, was an International Longshore and Warehouse Union leader and a prominent figure in the Los Angeles Harbor community.

His potential replacement on the board, Diane Middleton, was approved by the City Council’s Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee, on which Bonin sits.

Bonin said he believed that Arian would have approved of Middleton as his replacement.

“I just want to say how pleased and enthusiastic I am about this. Dave would be proud that (Middleton is) such a strong voice for labor, such a strong voice for the community, such a staunch progressive, and I think he would be pretty freaking stoked that it’s going to be a female majority on the board,” said Bonin, who is married to Arian’s son, Sean.

Middleton, who has lived in the port area for over 40 years, has served as a Los Angeles Housing Authority commissioner and on many other boards and local agencies. She has also represented injured longshoremen, shipyard workers and asbestos victims during her work as a lawyer, and founded the Diane Middleton Foundation in 1999 to support groups associated with labor organizing, civil rights, education, and working class culture, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.

“I consider it a privilege to serve in this capacity,” Middleton said. “I’m very excited about development at the port, in San Pedro and Wilmington, and I thank the mayor, and will thank the City Council hopefully after tomorrow morning for the confirmation and moving forward.”

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