Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke has been the second district supervisor for over 15 years and has had a long and sterling career as an outstanding elected official for most of her professional life.
Now she is ready to leave after announcing last week that she will step down after this term. The Los Angeles Sentinel spoke with her to find out some of her future plans and particularly if she will be supporting or endorsing anyone to be her successor.
“First of all, I’ll wait to see who’s running,” Burke said, “At this moment, I have not made any commitment to support any particular person.
“Obviously [Councilman] Herb Wesson has worked with our office over the years and if he runs, I’ll support him. But whether or not he’ll run, I just don’t know. There are many excellent candidates whose names have been surfacing, so I’m just waiting to see what happens.”
Although the supervisor’s seat will not be vacant for another year or so, the field of potential candidates are positioning themselves at the starting gate. In addition to Wesson, the potential candidates whose names have surfaced are Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Councilman Bernard Parks, State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, Councilwomen Jan Perry and Janice Hahn.
Wesson would be the early favorite because of his possible endorsement by Burke. As a former Speaker of the California State Assembly, he also has name recognition on a statewide level that makes him a formidable candidate. The L.A. Times recently reported that he could be a formidable candidate against Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the next mayoral election.
Congresswoman Waters is just as formidable a candidate because though her district is local, she has not just a national, but an international profile. Sources have told the Sentinel that if she may be looking at the supervisor’s seat because commuting regularly to and from Washington gets to be physically burdensome. But with her knowledge and her ability to move people and make things happen, being a county supervisor might very well be in her future.
Councilman Parks, as the former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, has excellent name recognition citywide. He has been praised for his smooth transition from chief (an appointed office) to councilman of the 8th district (an elected office) and could do well within the boundaries of the city he has been familiar with for 35 years as a former police officer.
Though Councilwoman Perry has a number of years to go before her present term expires, she seems to be no immediate rush to leave City Hall. However, sources sat that she may be looking at the position of the county supervisor as an attainable goal. Since her 9th councilmanic district is within some of the 2nd district, she may not have far to travel politically and physically if she decides to run for the supervisor’s office.
State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas has consistently been elected to every office he’s run for – Los Angeles City Council, State Assembly and now, the State Senate – and if he decides to run, he will already have a sound constituent base from which to launch his candidacy.
Finally, additional sources have surmised that Councilwoman Hahn may possibly use a run for this office as a test run for the supervisor’s seat that she covets – the 4th supervisorial district. She would already be familiar with the layout of the land since a large portion of her 15th district seat and her San Pedro stronghold are both in that supervisor’s district. Many people feel that the name “Hahn” which was synonymous with the 2nd district for over forty years because of her father, Kenneth Hahn, could be a contributory factor.
The second supervisorial district consists of 158 square miles; it is the most densely populated of the five supervisors’ districts with a population of over two million residents