Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, and former Manhattan Beach City Councilman Steve Napolitano will square off in a November run-off in the race for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, with Hahn falling just short of the majority needed to win the post outright.
If Hahn wins in November, she’d be part of the first female majority on the five-member board. She would also return the Hahn name to the board where her late father, Kenneth Hahn, served for 40 years. The Hall of Administration building where the board meets is named for her father.
And her father’s not the only one in her political family: Her brother, James Hahn, served as mayor of Los Angeles.
Hahn told KCAL9 in Norwalk that she’d “always expected to be in a run- off,” saying that getting to 50 percent with three candidates was mathematically challenging, but she remained confident about the ultimate outcome.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to win this election,” Hahn told the station Tuesday night. “It’s either going to be tonight or it’s going to be in November.”
Some supporters had hoped that Hahn’s significant edge in name recognition, high-profile endorsements and campaign funding would settle the race for supervisor of Los Angeles County’s 4th District Tuesday night and return a Hahn to the county Hall of Administration.
But without a majority, the top two vote-getters will move on to the November ballot.
Whittier School District Board member Ralph Pacheco, the other candidate in the race to replace incumbent Supervisor Don Knabe, picked up 14.0 percent of early votes.
Hahn raised nearly $1.4 million for her campaign, according to the latest filings, compared with Napolitano’s nearly $1.1 million, $790,000 of which was self-funded. No filing for Pacheco was posted on the registrar- recorder’s website.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed the congresswoman last week as best suited to replace Knabe, who has held the 4th District seat since 1996. Garcetti cited Hahn’s compassion for poor and working-class families and her tenacity in getting things done as factors in his endorsement.
“I’ve seen first-hand Janice Hahn’s devotion and compassion when it comes to standing up for poor and working-class families and getting things done for the people she represents,” Garcetti said.
Napolitano is a senior deputy to Knabe with 10 years of county experience, responsible for overseeing eight South Bay communities and focusing on issues including economic development and the environment. He is also Knabe’s choice to represent the 4th District, which covers a U-shaped swath of the county that extends along the coast from Marina del Rey to Long Beach and then up through Lakewood, Norwalk, Whittier, Hacienda Heights and adjoining cities and unincorporated areas.
“Now more than ever, we need someone who will continue our legacy of being fiscally responsible so that we can provide the programs and services that our 10 million residents demand,” Knabe said.
Napolitano also has support from outgoing Supervisor Michael Antonovich, whose own seat is at the center of a heavily contested race, as well as Rep. Ed Royce, R-Brea, former Gov. George Deukmejian and former district attorneys Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian. At least two Assembly members and several dozen mayors, council members, school district board members and other district officials have also backed Knabe’s pick.
Hahn, a former Los Angeles city councilwoman who was elected to Congress in a 2011 special election, has the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News and the Daily Breeze, along with several other local newspapers.
She is supported by unions representing county firefighters and sheriff’s deputies and is also endorsed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and several other high-ranking state officials, at least nine members of the House, and dozens of local elected officials.
The three people set to remain on the Board of Supervisors when Antonovich and Knabe term out at the end of the year — Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis — would also like to see Hahn join the board.
All three 4th District candidates have focused on the issue of public safety, with Hahn and Napolitano both calling for hiring more sheriff’s deputies.
In an interview with the Daily News, Hahn said that means more community policing.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be able to prevent crime if we don’t have real trust between the Sheriff’s Department and the people they serve,” Hahn said.
Pacheco, a pastor who has spent 34 years in public service, highlighted that experience.
“I believe it’s time that we have new leadership on the board — someone who has been a lifelong resident of the 4th District and has worked diligently in helping to coordinate county service,” Pacheco told the Whittier Daily News.
Combating homelessness has also been cited by Hahn and Napolitano as among their top three priorities.
Napolitano, who had the distinction of being the youngest member ever elected to the Manhattan Beach City Council, has emphasized his lack of partisanship and sees himself as a problem solver.
“The L.A. County Supervisors shouldn’t be concerned with partisan politics or personal ambition; it should be about solving problems and most of all, serving people,” Napolitano said on his campaign website.
Though the Board of Supervisors seat is a non-partisan post, the ideologies of the supervisors sometime come into play in policy making. Knabe and Antonovich, who will also term out at the end of the year, are typically viewed as the two conservative voices on the board. Hahn is a Democrat, while Napolitano and Pacheco are both Republicans.
Former Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin, once a fourth candidate for Knabe’s seat, dropped out of the race in March, saying he didn’t want to split the Republican vote. Hahn talked Tuesday night about the possibility that if she and Kathryn Barger, who is leading in the race for Antonovich’s 5th District seat, both win, the board could be four-fifths women. That would leave Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is running for re-election unopposed tonight, as the odd man out.
“Four women and Mark,” Hahn mused to KCAL9. “But you know I have no doubt that he’ll be able to handle us.”
Term limits were not imposed on the board until 2002, when three four- year terms were set as the maximum length of service. Prior to 2014, candidates ran largely uncontested. Hahn’s father, Kenneth Hahn, served as a supervisor for 40 years and the county’s Hall of Administration is named after him. “No matter where I go in the county of Los Angeles, people remember my dad, Kenny Hahn,” Hahn told KCAL9. “He stood for something and people respect that. So, of course, I’m very proud of my last name and it means a lot to people so I certainly made the connection between myself and my father.”
Since the 2014 race, the posts — which control a $28.5 billion budget and services for more than 10 million residents — have drawn the attention of a broader group of candidates with national political experience. Supervisor Hilda Solis was Labor Secretary in the Obama administration before winning the race to represent L.A. County’s 1st District that year.
—City News Service