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Come November, L.A. Could Have Its First Ever Female-Majority Board Of Supervisors

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Kathryn Barger (left) and Janice Hahn. (Photos via Wikimedia Commons and Kathrynbarger.com)
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There were two open Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors seats in play during last night's primary election, both of which could have been filled if any candidate reached a 50 percent threshold of the vote.

Neither U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn nor Kathryn Barger—the leading candidates vying to fill Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael D. Antonovich's 4th and 5th District seats, respectively—received the majority needed to win a seat outright, so both will take part in a runoff in the fall.

The five-member County Board of Supervisors, nicknamed "the five little kings" for their near-unchecked power, is an extremely important force within the L.A. area, though many Angelenos aren't even aware they exist.

Hahn, a former city councilwoman, hails from one of Los Angeles' most powerful political dynasties. Her father Kenneth Hahn spent four decades on the pre-term limits Board of Supervisors (see also: Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration; Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area; the 103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn station on the Blue Line), and her brother James Hahn was the city's 40th mayor. The L.A. Times reports that Hahn received 47 percent of the vote last night, just a few points shy of the 50 percent threshold necessary to have won the District 4 seat outright. She will presumably be joined in the runoff by Manhattan Beach City Councilman Steve Napolitano, though results are unofficial until mail-in and provisional ballots have been counted.

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Barger, who currently serves as Antonovich's chief of staff, was in an eight-way race that included current City Councilman Mitch Englander, state Sen. Bob Huff and former White House staffer Darrell Park. She received 30 percent of the vote, and Park and Huff are currently in a near-tie for second place (according to the Times, Park currently leads by 417 votes).

With women in the lead for both seats, there's a strong chance that at least one of them could succeed, joining current Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl on the board, and tipping its balance—for the first time ever—to a majority-female governing body. And that's just if one of the two wins. If both Hahn and Barger win in November, women would make up four out of the five seats on the board, which would be pretty damn cool. For context, it was a mere 25 years ago that the Board of Supervisors first welcomed a woman to its ranks, and there is currently only one woman on the 15-member Los Angeles City Council.