Paul Tanaka, the candidate for Los Angeles County sheriff that local media have declared missing in action since the June primary, has raised his profile with a new video and public appearances.
Tanaka is in the November runoff against Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, who received almost 50 percent of the vote in the primary. There were five other candidates, four of whom immediately endorsed McDonnell.
Since June, Tanaka has made few public statements as a candidate, but his name has come up in the trials of former L.A. County sheriff’s deputies accused of hiding an inmate-turned-informant from his FBI handlers. The defense has argued that they were only following orders from then-Undersheriff Tanaka and then-Sheriff Lee Baca to obstruct a federal investigation of deputy-on-inmate abuse in the county jails.
Tanaka told The Daily Breeze, “I actually had very little to do with all the areas of controversy in the jails. That was outside my area. When I was in charge of the jails, we didn’t have the same problems.”
In a video posted on his Facebook page on Sept. 14, Tanaka said, “During the course of the next few weeks, you’re going to hear some negative attacks directed toward my campaign that could cause you to question my qualifications to be the next sheriff. If I could sit down with you over a cup of coffee, I could tell you a little bit more about the real Paul Tanaka.
“A lifelong resident of Los Angeles County, I worked as a certified public accountant in the State of California. I’m a 33-year veteran of law enforcement with a proven track record for fighting crime and making your community safer. I’m the mayor of the City of Gardena, Calif., a city I’m proud to say I helped lead from the brink of financial ruin to one that is very fiscally stable today.
“Again, I would ask that you look beyond the politically motivated attacks and if you have any questions about who Paul Tanaka is, I invite you to contact me [at [email protected]]. And please remember to vote on Nov. 4.”
On Sept. 18, Tanaka posted a video of an ABC7 news story with this statement: “California, particularly Los Angeles County, should be outraged by the release of the Pillowcase Rapist into our community. Today marks Day 72 of a community effort to keep our families safe.
“I would like to commend the brave community members in the Antelope Valley for their tenacity in keeping Christopher Hubbart, a criminal who has admittedly raped more than 40 women, out of our communities. Thank you for making a difference for the residents of L.A. County.”
In the video, which shows Tanaka participating in a protest outside Hubbart’s home earlier this month, the candidate says he supports “those who for the last 60 days, including today, have been standing guard protesting the outrageous decision by a doctor and a judge to release a known violent convicted rapist into a community because they thought it was okay to do that. And it’s not okay.”
On Sept. 21, Tanaka posted a photo of an event that he attended in El Monte, and on Sept. 24 a photo of a speaking engagement at La Crescenta Valley Church. He thanked the church “for the opportunity to speak to their congregation about the importance of voting” and noted that those who want to vote in November can still register.
Tanaka’s campaign website is still online, but has not announced any endorsements or upcoming events since the primary.