Los Angeles Police Department Officer Joe Buscaino won big over Assemblyman Warren Furutani in Tuesday's special election race in the 15th Council District.
Early Wednesday morning, Buscaino had 60.69 percent to Furutani's 39.31 percent, according to figures released by the City Clerk's Office.
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The special election was prompted by Janice Hahn's election to Congress in July.
Buscaino, a senior lead officer assigned to the LAPD's Harbor Station for the past six years, branded himself as an outsider in the race representing a district from San Pedro to Watts.
“It's clear that I'm the chosen candidate from the community,'' Buscaino told City News Service before the polls closed. ``I'm not the chosen candidate from Sacramento or City Hall.”
Furutani's campaign did not respond to requests for an interview. Buscaino said that if he's elected, he will focus on finances in a district he sees as being largely ignored by the rest of the 15-member City Council.
``There's been a lack of economic justice around this district,'' Buscaino said, citing a nearly 20 percent unemployment rate in Watts, poor basic infrastructure in Wilmington, and a flight of businesses from Harbor City.
Buscaino, a 37-year-old San Pedro High School graduate, deflected criticism that he has had little preparation to represent a council district.
``The senior lead officer position is something like a small town councilman who problem solves, who improves quality of life, who works with community-based organizations,'' Buscaino said.
Buscaino criticized Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council for passing a budget that held up millions of dollars for police in overtime and early retirement pay for city employees.
``It's just putting the city on a credit card system,'' Buscaino said. ``It's putting a Band-Aid on the problem that we're going to have to fix later on.''
Furutani, a 64-year-old Democrat, touted his success in finding money for projects in and around the Port of Los Angeles, including leading the effort to bring the USS Iowa to San Pedro as a permanent museum and helping get funding to maintain the Gerald Desmond Bridge that links the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Furutani was elected to the state's 55th Assembly District seat in 2008 in a special election to replace Laura Richardson, who succeeded the late Juanita Millender-McDonald in Congress.
Before that, he served on the Los Angeles Unified School District board and the Los Angeles Community College District board.
About half the votes in the district come from San Pedro.
Buscaino slightly outraised Furutani Dec. 4 through Dec. 31, with $60,467 compared to $56,228. Both received $150,000 in public matching funds for the runoff.
Buscaino also benefited from $389,000 spent by political action groups, including the Los Angeles County Business Federation, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
Furutani received less PAC money. The Los Angeles Democratic Party spent $10,000 on his behalf, and the Golden State Leadership Fund spent $3,590.