Janice Hahn's election to Congress has left an empty seat on the Los Angeles City Council. Eleven candidates are now vying for her vacant council district 15 seat in a special election to be held Nov. 8. Joe Buscaino, an LAPD officer, is one of those candidates.
Buscaino says he is running for city council after being approached by several members of the community. "They're fed up with the political machine, they're fed up with these career politicians bouncing from one seat to the next," Buscaino said, perhaps referring to State Assembly Member Warren Furutani who is also running for the city council seat.
Buscaino answers like a seasoned politician, rather than the first-time candidate he is, when asked about endorsements Furutani has received from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
"Warren [Furutani] and [Pat] McOsker being endorsed by these big politician names is fine, they're well respected in that arena, but my endorsements are coming from the community. Over 350 community leaders are endorsing this campaign. It's a testimony to a true grassroots effort," Buscaino added.
The 15th district, which Buscaino refers to as the "pearl" of Los Angeles, is home to the Port of Los Angeles. He aims to keep the port economically viable. Job creation and redeveloping the San Pedro waterfront are high on his agenda.
"To get folks out of poverty we need to provide them with jobs and what better way to do that than redeveloping the waterfront and make this a destination for the city." Buscaino added, "we often say we want to bring the sea to the city and the city to the sea."
So far Buscaino's message seems to be resonating with voters. His campaign is running second only to Furutani when it comes to fundraising through Sept. 24. According to Buscaino, more than 75 percent of these funds have come from donors within the district.
Whether those contributions will turn into votes remains to be seen. With so many candidates running, it is likely the special election will lead to a run-off in January. Buscaino is hoping to finish first or second in the Nov. 8 vote. "There is no third place finish here, no moral victory here. We're in this to win it."
Christine Detz is a graduate student at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which has partnered with KCET-TV to produce this blog about policy in Los Angeles.