LOS ANGELES — Two former state assemblymen are competing for votes on election day in the race for the 35th state Senate District seat.
Voters will choose between Steve Bradford, 56, and Warren Furutani, 68, on Nov. 8 in the race to replace Sen. Isadore Hall III. Hall is running for the 44th Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Janice Hahn. Hahn is running for a seat on the county Board of Supervisors.
The two Democrats once served in the lower house of the California State Legislature.
Furutani said if he is elected to serve District 35 voters his main focus will be on education and career creation for citizens. Bradford said if elected he would focus on education reform, homelessness and criminal justice reform.
The district the two are vying to represent straddles the Harbor (110) Freeway and includes inland portions of the South Bay.
Furutani’s political career stretches back to 1987 when he was the first Asian-American to be elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District board. Since then, the self-described community organizer has worn two other political hats as a Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees member and a state Assembly member.
Furutani said he wants to help constituents be prepared for 21st century careers. He said education is key.
“My emphasis is clearly going to be education,” he said. “Basically getting high school students and adults — high school grads, people coming back from war, out of prison — we need to make sure they are on an education path that will get them a good career, not just a job.”
The former LAUSD school board member and three-term 55th Assembly District representative said education has always been the cornerstone of his work.
“I just feel that a good public education system is key to a good democracy and as one goes so goes the other,” Furutani said. “And the piece of the puzzle right now that I believe is must critical is rebuilding the middle class. Rebuilding the middle class means people need to get an education.”
Bradford first jumped into politics as a member of the Gardena City Council. He then served in the Assembly. Bradford said he wants to solve problems and not just pass legislation and added that he is one of the few, true public servants in the African-American community that has delivered results.
“I delivered results for 13 years as a member of the Gardena City Council and six years as a member of the Legislature,” he said. “I passed 42 bills as an Assembly person. As a member of the Gardena City Council, 18 years ago when I was elected Gardena was on the brink of bankruptcy. Twelve years later when I left, we had $8.5 million in the bank, we eradicated a $7 million debt, we had given employees raises and we went from 62 sworn police officers to 92.”
Bradford said while in Sacramento he worked hard for voters by chairing a committee that created the framework of the California version of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program and working on a bill that aids low-level crime offenders in petitioning the court to have their records expunged to help with job prospects.
“I have a clear track record of deliverables,” he said. “I do this not because I am committed to elected office. I’m committed to public service.”
State Senate District 35 includes 11 cities including Compton, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, part of Long Beach and South Los Angeles.
Bradford has received endorsements from a bevy of politicians, business organizations and civil rights groups including California NAACP President Alice Huffman, the Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the California Democratic Party, and Hall, the current 35th District representative.
Furutani’s endorsers also include a variety of groups and politicians such as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, state Controller Betty Yee, the Los Angeles Police Protective League and Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan.
Furutani said voters should pick him because he has been involved in public service for more than 25 years.
“For me it’s about bringing people together,” he said. “I’ve been a community organizer since the late 60s. I’ve been involved in civil rights issues, anti-war issues and progressive issues.”
Bradford said people have always respected him as an elected official.
“They know I show up, I stand up, speak up and I’m going to do the right thing,” he said. “I’m committed to public service and people appreciate that.”