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L.A. County Supervisors Race: Hahn vs Napolitano

L.A. County Supervisor 4th District Candidates Napolitano and Hahn
Steve Napolitano and Janice Hahn, candidates for L.A. County Supervisor 4th District 

Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, and former Manhattan Beach City Councilman Steve Napolitano remain locked in a sometimes-ugly battle for the 4th District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

During the June primary, Hahn fell just short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff, with 47.1 percent of the vote.

The congresswoman has benefited from local name-recognition based on her tenure as a Los Angeles city councilwoman and the fact that her father was a county supervisor for 40 years.

``My father, beloved county Supervisor Kenny Hahn, always stressed to me the importance of being a champion for the people,'' Hahn says on her campaign website.

She highlights her work to clean and maintain the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and her bi-partisan efforts while in Congress.

Napolitano, the senior deputy to and favorite of incumbent Supervisor Don Knabe, points to more than a decade of experience in county government as the best qualification for the job. He calls himself ``a proven problem solver, not a politician,'' on his website.

The 4th District 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 in his endorsement of Napolitano.

Napolitano, who is responsible for overseeing eight South Bay communities for Knabe and has focused on issues including economic development and the environment, also has support from outgoing Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

However, the three people set to remain on the Board of Supervisors when Antonovich and Knabe term out in December -- Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis -- are backing Hahn in her bid to join the board.

Though the Board of Supervisors seat is a non-partisan post, the ideologies of the supervisors sometimes come into play in setting policy. Knabe and Antonovich are typically viewed as the two conservative voices on the board.

Hahn is a Democrat, while Napolitano is a Republican.

Hahn has the backing of dozens of unions, including those representing sheriff's deputies and firefighters and the powerful Service Employees International Union Local 721.

The long list of elected officials throwing their support behind her includes Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, nine of 14 members of the Los Angeles City Council, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and several of Hahn's colleagues from the House of Representatives elected in Southern California districts.

``I've seen firsthand Janice Hahn's fearlessness, her devotion and compassion when it comes to standing up for poor and working-class families, and her resolve for solving problems and getting things done for the people she represents,'' Garcetti said in his June endorsement.

Napolitano has the backing of Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, former Gov. George Deukmejian and former district attorneys Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian. Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, at least two Assembly members and several dozen mayors, city council members, school district board members and other district officials have also backed Knabe's pick.

Each candidate has roughly $2 million in campaign funds to fuel their fight. Napolitano has put up nearly $1.7 million of his own money to reach that total.

But Hahn's campaign is expected to return nearly $290,000 of her war chest because of legal limits on giving by political action committees. Napolitano has accused Hahn of deliberately violating campaign finance laws, while Hahn's campaign fired back by calling Napolitano a slumlord.

The county registrar-recorder notified Hahn's campaign in August that it had exceeded the $150,000 per election cap on contributions from political action committees. The campaign had received nearly $440,000 in PAC funding as of the end of June, according to the registrar's office.

The campaign initially responded that it believed such limits had been lifted because Napolitano had chosen to largely self-fund his bid. However, that waiver applies only to individual contributions, something Napolitano said Hahn's campaign should have known.

Napolitano filed suit seeking to force Hahn to pay back the funds immediately and to prevent her from spending any of the cash. That suit was dismissed and Hahn's campaign pledged to return any contributions in excess of legal limits.

Hahn's campaign has charged Napolitano with mudslinging while also pointing to health and safety code violations at a South Los Angeles apartment building the Knabe deputy owns.

Since the 2014 race, the county supervisor posts -- which control a nearly $30 billion budget -- have drawn the attention of a broader group of candidates with national political experience. Hilda Solis was Labor Secretary in the Obama administration before winning the race to represent L.A. County's 1st District that year.

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