LA voters go to polls today in council district race

Jason Kandel
NBC4
Jan 16, 2012

Los Angeles voters head to the polls today to elect a candidate in a special runoff between a political newcomer and a veteran for City Council District 15, which runs from the Harbor to Watts.

Los Angeles Police Officer Joe Buscaino faces off against California Assemblyman Warren Furutani.

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Candidate Joe Buscaino | Candidate Warren Furutani

Buscaino, who grew up in the Harbor area, has a bachelor’s degree in communications from UCLA. He was hired as a LAPD cop in 1996 and has worked patrol and administrative assignments in the chief’s office, West Traffic Division, and Emergency Operations Division.

The 37-year-old currently works as a senior lead officer in the Harbor Division. Buscaino is married and has two children.

Furutani, who was born in San Pedro and raised in Gardena, was a civil rights activist in the 1960s. He has more than 40 years experience in education and public service. In 1987, Furutani was the first Asian Pacific Islander American to be elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education.

In the California state legislature, Furutani, 64, was appointed chairman of the Public Employees Retirement and Social Security Committee, where he introduced Assembly Bill 340 aimed at ending pension spiking and double dipping.

He is married and has two sons.

In November’s Special Election, Buscaino led with 29 percent of the vote, while Furutani claimed 22 percent. About 16 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the election. Neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote, requiring the runoff.

The seat was left vacant in July when Hahn was elected to Congress to replace Jane Harman, who stepped down to join at foreign policy group in Washington.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League spent $72,285 to support Buscaino. Furutani received support from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Teamsters and labor unions representing government workers.

Whoever’s elected Tuesday will fill the remaining year on Hahn's four-year term before it opens up again for an election in 2013.

Important Phone Numbers for Election Day:

  • Election Division - General Information: (888) 873-1000 or (213) 978-0444
  • Polling Place Look-up: (888) 873-1000 or (213) 978-0444
  • Language Assistance: (800) 994-8683
  • Voter Fraud Hotline: (800) 815-2666
  • Election Night Results Bulletin Hotline: (213) 978-3281
  • To find your polling place, call 888-873-1000 or 213-978-0444 or visit L.A. City Clerk's Office.