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An Average Joe? Not So

MY TURN - In a win that plunged some long-time politicians in disbelief, former Los Angeles Police Officer Joe Buscaino – a political novice -- easily snapped up former Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s seat on the Los Angeles City Council during Tuesday’s special election.

“It’s unbelievable. Not only did we win, but we won big,” Buscaino, 37, told me Wednesday morning. “I am so proud of the people who voted and I am so grateful that they have the faith, the trust and the confidence for me to serve them.  “The people who got me to this position are the people I won’t forget.”

Buscaino, 37, and a father of an 8-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl, beat out Assemblyman Warren Furutani garnering 60 percent of the vote. He was also the top vote getter in the November primary where he vied against 10 other candidates.

In Tuesday’s election, Buscaino raced past his opponent, grabbing 9,734 votes. Furutani received 6,304 or about 39 percent.  Fresh-faced, ready for action and a leadership role, Buscaino’s first issues will be who he hires to surround and guide him through the Los Angeles City Hall's political quagmire. Few people go in the political chewing machine without being  swallowed, turning into a different persona then they started out.  Buscaino, however, promises to remain grounded and he has scores of family members  who live in the area, more than 500, to help him do so.  Meanwhile, his wife, Geralyn, a school teacher at White Point Elementary School, said she was proud and happy for him.

“It was just amazing,” said the teacher of the party held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Tuesday evening. “I was so excited to see all the help in that room and was really touched when Joe asked his family to come on the stage, then asked us to leave and brought all his volunteers up there. It was really touching.”  Buscaino said he will take an oath for office in 21 days or less while the City Clerk's office certifies the win.  “My opponent said I didn’t have experience,” he said. “He was wrong. I had my boots on the ground.”

In an important move, Buscaino announced Wednesday that he will hire Doane Liu as his chief-of staff. Liu held the post for Hahn since last January and has managed the council office since she left to take a seat in congress.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire my best friend,” Buscaino added, saying he needed a chief-of-staff who could help him navigate the choppy waves in Los Angeles politics.

Liu said he grew to know Buscaino over the last several months.

"I have been really inspired by his passion and energy on the campaign trail," Liu e-mailed. "I can't wait to help him implement his vision for the district. I'm a newcomer to San Pedro -- only lived here for 24 years. So I can't say I was "born and raised in Pedro." But my kids can."

Coming with an extensive political background, Liu does seem an appropriate choice.

From 1995-1999, he served as a district director for then Congresswoman Jane Harman. From there, he worked as director of community services for former City Attorney Jim Hahn from 1999 to 2001 and acted as Deputy mayor when Jim Hahn (Janice's brother)  became mayor between 2001 to 2005.

Liu will aid Buscaino's transition from officer to councilman and guide him through the scores of applications that doused the former cop's candidate office.

Overall, Buscaino's Tuesday win -- is telling that the public is frustrated with a system that continues to fail us.

I’ve backed Buscaino from the beginning because he was a guy – just like most of us – not rich and has a family he wants to raise in San Pedro. In addition, he had an  understanding of the streets of Council District 15, which includes Watts, Wilmington, Harbor Gateway, Harbor City and San Pedro.

For six years, he was a senior lead officer in the Harbor area, coming to know residents throughout the region, and was an LAPD cop 15 years.
Born in San Pedro to parents who immigrated from Italy, Buscaino said “the people who got me here are moms and dads, police officers, teachers, firefighters” and many others.

Of his victorious campaign, the incoming councilman said:  "This is just a testament that we were fed up with insider politicians. This was not supposed to happen to beat out a veteran politician. It shows it’s possible for someone off the streets, the average Joe, to get elected. We want to inspire others to run and it was a positive, honorable campaign.  "We stuck to the issues. Maybe this can rub off on Sacramento and Washington, D.C.”

(Diana Chapman is a CityWatch contributor and has been a writer/journalist for nearly thirty years. She has written for magazines, newspapers and the best-seller series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can reach her at:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or her website: theunderdogforkids.blogspot.com) –cw

Tags: Diana Chapman, Joe Buscaino, San Pedro, South Bay, Council District 15, CD 15 Election, Warren Furutani, Watts, Wilmington, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway




CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 6
Pub: Jan 19, 2012

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