Saturday, April 30, 2022

Torrance City Council Election 2022: The Fight For North Torrance (District One)

 There are two very contentious races in the 2022 Torrance City Council Elections:

1. Torrance City Council, District One

2. Torrance City Treasurer

For this post, I am going to explore the District One contest more closely. 



This is the northern most district, a region of the city which has not gotten as much attention compared to other areas of the city. Based on the number of Title One enrollees at North High School, it's the poorest area of the city. It has seen a higher degree of crime compared to other areas of the city as well.

It's also the most Democratic region of the city, if one is paying attention to the affilation of voters in the area. Of course, I have found that many residents in the city are not as keenly focused on the party affiliation of city council candidates, as much as they focus on

There are four candidates for this seat. Right away, we understand why this fight is so contentious.

Here are the candidates vying for the seat, with their political affiliations and their endorsements

1. Jimmy Gow


Democrat

Endorsements:

Pat Furey: Mayor of Torrance

Al Muratsuchi: Assemblymember representing Torrance

Maxine Waters: Congresswoman representing Torrance

Janice Hahn: LA County Supervisor representing Torrance

2. David Zygielbaum


Democrat

Endorsements:

Torrance Police Officers Association

Torrance Firefighters Association

Pat Furey: Mayor of Torrance


3. David Kartsonis


Republican

Endorsements:

George Nakano - Former California State Assemblyman

Councilwoman Heidi Ann Ashcraft - Torrance Councilwoman; Former TUSD School Board Member Councilman Mike Griffiths - Torrance Councilman 
Frank Scotto - Former Torrance Mayor 
Tom Brewer - Former Torrance Councilman 
Paul Nowatka Former Torrance Councilman 
Maureen O’Donnell - Former Torrance Councilwoman; Former El Camino College Trustee 
Bill Sutherland - Former Torrance Councilman 
Martha Deutch - Former TUSD School Board Member; President of the Torrance Education Foundation Dr. George Mannon - Former TUSD Superintendent 
Ken Brown - Trustee Area 1; Community College Instructor 
Siannah Collado Boutt√© - Former ECC Trustee, Former ECC ASO President 
Eman Dalili - Former Trustee; Former ECC Student Body President; Gubernatorial Appointee to the California Board of Governors 
Dr. Thomas Fallo - Former El Camino College Superintendant/President 
Brooke Matson - Former Trustee; Current Board Member of the El Camino College Foundation 
John Vargas - Former Trustee 
Matthew Brach - SCROC Governing Board; Palos Verdes Unified School District School Board 
Mark Burton - Former Manhattan Beach Mayor 
Mark Waronek - Lomita City Councilman 
Hugo Rojas - Vice-President, Centinela Valley Unified High School District

4. Jon Kaji




Independent

Endorsements:

Torrance City Councilman George Chen

Torrance City Councilman Aurelio Mattucci

El Camino College Trustee Trisha Murakawa

City of Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda

City of Gardena Councilman Rodney Tanaka

City of Gardena City Clerk Mina Simenza

Former State Treasurer John Chiang

Former LA County Supervisor Don Knabe

Former LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich

Former City of LA Councilmembers Jan Perry and David Ryu

Former LA County CEO William Fujioka

Former Chief of Staff, Rep. Steve Kuykendall,  Garrett Ashley

Former City of Torrance Planning Commissioner,  Ray Uchima

Civil rights attorney, Dale Minami, Esq.

Actor and civil rights activist, George Takei

Actor and comedian, Derek Mio

USC Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl Champion, Mike Garrett

Los Angeles Laker legend Michael Cooper

PGA Professional Ted Oh

Former SONY Interactive Entertainment Chairman and CEO, Shawn Layden


This race has a diverse split in all the endorsements. That certain will make for an interesting contest come June 7th, 2022.

How does this all break down, though?

Jimmy Gow is clearly the most partisan of the endorsements. He has gotten complete backing from every Democratic machine politician in the region, from Congress to the county to the state assembly. No one should be surprsied, since he remains the president of the Torrance Democratic Club, an institution with a history of shutting down public participation when residents want to confront their locally elected officials.

The last thing that many TOrrance voters want is an outright partisan, based on how elections have fallen for the last several decades in the city of Torrance. What's worse, though, is that Jimmy Gow was recently removed from the commission that he had served on for a number of years: The Social Services Commission.

It's a bitter irony that he servded on that commission, based on his obstreperous behavior during the 2016 President election. His infamously visited the West Carson Veterans Hall in 2016, in which he and other rabid leftists trespassed on the property, spit at veterans, pushed them around, and one of the hateful activists stole the phone from one of the veterans at the hall.


Jimmy Gow should be a clear "No" for any voter in North Torrance. He ran in 2018, when city council seats were still elected at large, and he was the bottom vote-getter. Will his overt connections to the Democratic Party get him into the seat?

Well, Democratic voters in North Torrance have another, more professional choice: LA County Deputy DA David Zygielbaum.

He's much more likeable and approachable. He also has a young family and he currently serves on a commission, having received the unanimous endorsement of the city council at that time. He helped start a Neighborhood Watch in his area, too. Plus the fact that he has endorsed by the two public safety unions in the city, and Zygielbaum is a viable option for partisan voters who want a city councilman with some panache and substance.

However, any candidate who receives Mayor Pat Furey's endorsement should invite considerable suspicious. Pat Furey has been a disgrace, an absolute disaster for the city of Torrance. A bitter partisan with open disdain for his colleagues on the council, a political hack of dubious moral distinction who colluded with a local PAC during the 2014 Torrance City Council elections, Furey is one creepy fellow. Many people in the city have had nothing but disdain for this man, in large part because of his rampant disrespect to voters and speakers in the city council chambers.

And his complete incompetence when it comes to running city council meetings has harmed everyone in the city. He refused to take a stand against outside hate groups which have long disrupted city council meetings. He has refused to take a stance against the relentless borrowing from the city's general fund.

Pat Furey has been a huge disappointment to the city, and anyone whom he endorses is all the more suspect as a result.

Like Zygielbaum, David Kartsonis has a considerable record of public service in the city of Torrance, specifically for North Torrance, and for the general region due to his advocacy and volunteer efforts with El Camino College. In 2020, he ran for a seat on the El Co Board of Trustees, and he even received numerous endorsements from local and county elected officials from across the political spectrum.

Yet he still lost.

He's running for the North Torrance city council seat with a considerable array of endorsements, but many of them are formerly elected officials, not current ones, aside from Torrance City Councilmembers Mike Griffiths and Heide Ashcraft. 

Kartsonis has considerable ties to the area, no doubt, and he does not have a partisan axe to grind. Is he the best pick for the seat?

Then there's Jon Kaji.

He's an Independent, and an independent business owner. He has the endorsement of two Torrance city councilmembers. He has ties to the Torrance business community, certainly. Most of his endorsements are from his activism and his connections with his alma mater USC.

It helps to have someone who is more of an outsider running for the Torrance City Council. As it stands now, two of the city councilmembers--George Chen and Sharon Kalani--never served on city commissioners before. It's worthwhile for voters to send a message to the community that they will give "outsiders" a chance to serve on the city council, as well.

There is one clear distinction which Kaji holds compared to the other three candidates: he is the only candidate who opposes raising the city sales tax. That is a considerable development, and makes him a worthwhile consideration.

Final Reflection

Diverse, divided endorsements, different political backgrounds, distinct records of public service: all these elements make the race for Torrance City Council District One an election for the Torrance history books. How will the voters assess these different candidates? Will the endorsements play any kind of factor? Each nominee has a number of respectable suppporters, and some of them have supporters from the same government agency (Torrance City Council, El Camino College Board of Trustees.)

The professional background of each candidate is something to consider, as well.

How will this race shape up going into June 7th?

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