Quickly following Councilmember Janice Hahn’s victory in the special congressional election Tuesday, Assemblymember Warren Furutani wasted no time in announcing his plans to run for Los Angeles City Council.
“I was born in San Pedro and have lived in the 15th Council District for almost 20 years,” said Furutani. “I’m an L.A. guy and I’m very excited at the opportunity to work closely with the community on important issues like job creation, gang prevention, education, transportation, air quality and improving the great neighborhoods of San Pedro, Watts, Wilmington, Harbor City and the Harbor Gateway.”
Furutani began his career in Los Angeles as a community organizer during the civil rights movement. He later worked as a counselor at one of the toughest continuation high schools for dropouts in Downtown L.A. to keep at-risk kids out of gangs and in school.
In 1987, he was the first Asian Pacific American ever elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Representing the whole 15th Council District and more, he brought port, labor, education advocates and the community together to found the Wilmington Skills Center, which has trained thousands of students for good paying jobs.
In 1999, he was elected to the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, where he focused his efforts on career technical education and rebuilding campuses throughout the city.
First elected to the State Assembly in 2008, Furutani represents about 30 percent of the 15th Council District — Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway. He serves as chair of the Public Employees Retirement and Social Security Committee, where he introduced several pension reform measures, including AB 340, which seeks to stop the abusive practices of pension-spiking and double-dipping.
Furutani’s work in the Capitol includes legislation related to career technical education, community colleges, clean air quality, and support for small businesses.
He also successfully advocated for state resources to help rebuild the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which links the Port of Long Beach to the Port of Los Angeles, and is expected to generate 4,000 jobs in the community for at least five years.
If elected, Furutani would be the first Japanese American to serve on the Los Angeles City Council, and only the second Asian Pacific Islander after Michael Woo, who served from 1985-1993.
Born in San Pedro, Furutani is fourth-generation Japanese American. His grandfather was a mechanic on Terminal Island in San Pedro who repaired tuna boat motors. During World War II, his grandparents and father were forced to leave their home in 48 hours and were sent to an internment camp in Rohwer, Ark.
His parents met in camp and later married. After the war, they returned to San Pedro to start their family.
Furutani is a product of the Los Angeles public education system. He graduated from Gardena High School in 1965 and Antioch University with a liberal arts degree. He is married to Lisa Abe Furutani and is the father of two grown sons.
The other announced candidates for the City Council seat are Pat McOsker, the president of the union that represents the Los Angeles Fire Department rank-and-file; Rudy Svorinich Jr., a registered lobbyist who held the council seat from 1993-2001; and LAPD Harbor Area Senior Lead Officer Joe Buscaino.