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City Councilmember Joe Buscaino Wants LA Mayor Job

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino wears a "YIMBY" (Yes In My Back Yard) shirt during an unveiling event for Elon Musk's The Boring Company test tunnel in Hawthorne on December 18, 2018. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
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Joe Buscaino is the first Los Angeles city councilmember to confirm a campaign for mayor of Los Angeles in 2022, setting his sights on the city’s top job when Eric Garcetti is termed out next year.

The Democrat said in a statement on Monday that he plans to make combating crime and addressing homelessness central themes of his campaign.

“This is a city that welcomed my immigrant parents to its shores, a city that has given my family so much, a city that I have committed my life to,” Buscaino said. “I believe in this city. I have much more to give to it, and I know we can do better.”

Buscaino represents the 15th District, including Watts, Wilmington and San Pedro. (If you’re wondering how all these communities fit into one district, it’s because the boundaries are shaped like a ladle… or maybe a walkie-talkie.)

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City Attorney Mike Feuer is the only other elected official to launch a campaign to replace Garcetti so far, though Councilmembers Kevin de León and Mark Ridley-Thomas are considered likely to throw their hats in the ring. As candidates in last year’s city elections, they both declined to rule out leaving their council districts early for the mayor’s office.

Buscaino is currently a reserve officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, where he served as a full-time officer for 15 years. He was first elected to the City Council in 2012.

A police officer who has opposed city legislation to cut funding to the LAPD, Buscaino is at odds with civil rights activists’ calls to defund or drastically alter the city’s support of traditional law enforcement in favor of alternative community safety investments.

Buscaino also introduced a measure last year to reinstate enhanced cleanups -- referred to as “sweeps” by critics -- in “special enforcement zones” near A Bridge Home homeless shelters, which had been on pause during the pandemic. Homeless advocates called the practice disruptive and unsafe at a time the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was advising keeping people in place.

Buscaino argued the growing encampments were public health hazards, and the city had to fulfill its promises to neighborhoods that welcomed new shelters with the assurance they would be accompanied by services and cleaning.

“I'm tired of simply managing this issue -- I want to solve homelessness in my district and throughout the city,” Buscaino told KPCC’s Take Two last year.

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