California Congresswoman Retiring to Run for Local Office
By Jean Merl
Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., will forgo a congressional re-election campaign next year and instead run for an open seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, where her populist father, the late Kenneth Hahn, served for four decades.
Hahn's announcement this week ended weeks of speculation and positioned her as an early, leading contender to replace Supervisor Don Knabe, who is being forced from office next year by term limits.
"My father developed a long history of delivering results for the folks he represented," Hahn said in a statement. "This is a legacy I have fought hard to continue throughout my career."
Los Angeles County's 4th District includes the South Bay beach cities, Marina del Rey, Artesia, Long Beach, Torrance, San Pedro and Norwalk, among other communities. Although the county board is officially nonpartisan, the district has long been represented by moderate Republicans, including Knabe, who has held the seat since late 1996.
In recent years, the area has grown increasingly multiethnic and Democratic.
Hahn, who served on the Los Angeles City Council before running for Congress, brings considerable name-recognition to the race. In addition to her father, whose name is on the downtown Hall of Administration where the county board meets, Hahn's brother, James, served at Los Angeles mayor, city attorney and city controller. He's currently an L.A. County Superior Court judge.
Several others have signaled interest in running for Knabe's seat, including Republican Mike Gin, a former mayor of Redondo Beach, and Steve Napolitano, a senior deputy to Knabe and a former Manhattan Beach city councilman.
Knabe told the Times two weeks ago that about 18 potential candidates had approached him. "It's going to be a wide open field," he said.
Janice Hahn, 62, a low-seniority member of the out-of-power party in Congress, said she had been able to work across the aisle on some issues, including protecting the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. But she said the county board, which oversees a wide range of health and social programs, public safety and recreational services and public works projects, offers more opportunities to effect change.
"The problem is, Washington is broken. It's increasingly mired in political gridlock, and there's virtually zero cooperation between the two parties," Hahn said. "That's not the kind of government I grew up with. ... I can do more for the Los Angeles region on the Board of Supervisors."
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