Hahn and Napolitano clustered around Dr. Manuel Pastor, the chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC at First Congregational Church in Long Beach Tuesday, surrounded by eager onlookers and various groups of concerned residents.
The meeting, in many ways, served to show that two of the three candidates didn’t really differ too much in their platforms; residents will likely be building off of their track records when they cast their vote next Tuesday.
The chamber echoed as members of the audience laughed at Pastor’s comments or moved within the regal halls of the church.
The Coalition for a Just LA hosted the event, structured around personal testimonials of individuals in Long Beach affected by senior housing, homelessness, Prop 47 and more.
“It really was a different kind of forum, with personal testimonies,” said Hahn after the meeting. She said she appreciated the organization and personal nature of their accounts, which really drove home the issues that are facing Long Beach and the Fourth District as a whole.
The two candidates weren't joined by third candidate Dr. Ralph Pacheco for the forum. Isolated, the two frontrunners appeared to agree on most things, despite a few efforts on Napolitano’s side to emphasize their differences.
By and large, however, in conversation with the Post, all three candidates agreed that the top issues facing Los Angeles County were, first and foremost, homelessness, followed by rising crime and maintaining a strong economy while taking into account the environment.
Here’s a look at the candidates, including their backgrounds, and what they see as the biggest issues facing the district, heading toward the June 7 election.
The current congresswoman, former Los Angeles City Councilmember, sister of former mayor James Hahn and daughter of former Los Angeles supervisor Kenneth Hahn is committed to returning to Los Angeles County, where she says she believes she can do more to directly impact the county than in Congress.
“I feel like I spent the last five years in Congress and I’ve done more than other Democrats to reach across the aisle, and I’d do the same for the district,” said Hahn. “I partnered with a Republican on a homeland security bill, and I worked with a chairman to bring more money to our ports, as a member of the Ports caucus.” But, given the gridlock and partisan bickering, Hahn believes she has the ability to do even more, given the nonpartisan nature of the Board of Supervisors.
What’s on her agenda? Homelessness, for starters.
“Number one, I plan on putting a lot of energy and thought into the homelessness problem,” said Hahn. “Everyone really wants to solve this issue. There are 47,000 people who are living on the streets—it’s symptomatic of an emergency.”
Hahn underscored her ability to obtain funding and knowledge of the federal system, saying she has the right relationships and negotiating skills to secure funding for literally any problem facing Los Angeles County, be it scaling up services for homelessness, additional (and much-needed) transportation funds, and funding for additional sheriff officials (“We’re 1500 short,” she said) to deal with the rising crime facing the county.
In terms of economy, she reiterated her commitment to a high-functioning port, and her belief that big business can coexist with a healthy environment, citing her passage of the Clean Air Act, and commitment to the environment even back in her days as a councilwoman.
“We want to ensure the economic viability of the port,” said Hahn. For a complete list of Hahn's endorsements, click here.
Steve Napolitano’s career began when he was the youngest person elected to the Manhattan Beach City Council in 1992 at the age of 26. He later worked as the mayor of the city, until he was termed out in 2005, and followed that with, most recently, his work as a senior deputy for current Supervisor Don Knabe.
Like Hahn, Napolitano called homelessness his first priority. He shared Hahn’s opinion that additional funding to curb homelessness is necessary, but also advocated for increased oversight.
“We need to get money for the overwhelming number of homeless,” said Napolitano, pointing to programs like PATH in curbing homelessness. “We need to spend money, but we have to check.”
Napolitano also sees diversion programs as a top priority, citing support of organizations like Homeboy as an example.
“We believed Prop 47 was a good idea for nonviolent criminals,” said Napolitano. “Removing them results in $23.9 million in savings. We probably need to take a look at where the savings are and what they’re going toward. [...] We should divert resources/savings toward avoiding re-entry.”
In other areas, Napolitano suggested trying innovative funding strategies, like Social Impact Bonds, to fund early childhood education programs and expand transit-oriented housing for seniors.
“We have big problems, and we need to address them,” said Napolitano. “I would take a seat at the table and let your voices be heard.” For a complete list of Napolitano's endorsements, click here.
Dr. Ralph Pacheco is a former pastor with a doctorate in Divinity, looking to serve the county after acting as a governing board member of the Whittier Union High School District and a trustee emeritus of Rio Hondo Community College.
He is also a co-founder and president of the Whittier County Community Coordinating Council (WCCCC), which serves as a liaison between the community and the various county agencies in delivering services to unincorporated county residents, experiencing issues ranging from homelessness to veterans' issues and more.
In an interview with the Post, Pacheco pointed to his years serving the community at the local level, and his familiar with social services through his work with the WCCCC. He talked about finding ways to boost funding for housing and infrastructure projects in the Whittier area.
“This isn’t something I intend to do; it’s something I’ve already been doing,” said Pacheco. “[WCCCC] served as a catalyst for bringing economic development/housing to the community. I have a track record in having provided as city commissioner in the City of Norwalk.”
Pacheco stressed homelessness as a huge issue in Los Angeles County that money alone can’t solve. He pointed to the LA City Support Task Force study that called on $1 billion to implement initiatives.
“However, in addition to coalescing services, I propose a quarter cent sales tax added to LA county in order to fund initiatives,” said Pacheco, emphasizing sustainability and finding a way to fund services. He said right the county can only afford to allocate close to $300 million of the $1 billion needed.
“I think it’s an issue we need to take back to the voters,” he said. He also proposed a half cent sales tax for increased light rail in the county, in addition to emphasizing that new legislation concerning the environment should not obstruct port workers’ ability to do their jobs.
To summarize his approach, Pacheco said he believes “we need a fiscal, conservative approach to addressing bloat. We need to talk about how we can effectively provide services and pay down debt. I have the wherewithal, the practical experience to do so." For a complete list of Ralph Pacheco's endorsements, click here.