Home » L.A. Council District 15 voter guide: McOsker vs Sandoval

L.A. Council District 15 voter guide: McOsker vs Sandoval

McOsker, a lifelong San Pedro resident, has a background in local government, having served as the top aide to then-City Atty. James Hahn from 1997 to 2001. When Hahn was elected mayor, McOsker moved over to the mayor’s office, serving four years as Hahn’s chief of staff. He worked with Hahn on the hiring of a new police chief — William Bratton — and the campaign to defeat a ballot proposal that would have let the San Fernando Valley break away from L.A. and form its own city.

Despite those achievements, that period was fraught for the Hahn administration. State and federal prosecutors conducted investigations of contracting at City Hall, resulting in the conviction of one of Hahn’s airport commissioners on corruption charges. Also convicted were executives of a company found to have overbilled the Department of Water and Power.

After Hahn lost reelection, McOsker joined a high-powered law firm, picking up a number of clients with city business. As a registered lobbyist, he represented real estate developers, a hotel association, contractors and the union that represents rank-and-file police officers. In 2018, he became chief executive of AltaSea, a nonprofit focused on science, ocean sustainability and job creation at the Port of Los Angeles. He also serves on the board of Linc Housing, which builds affordable housing, and other nonprofits.

Sandoval has also been politically active, serving on two neighborhoods councils — one based in central San Pedro, another in L.A.’s Harbor City neighborhood. She was also a member of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates, which produces recommendations for city spending.

A resident of Harbor City, Sandoval has highlighted that volunteer work and discussed the economic hardships she has faced as a working mother and an entrepreneur. One of her businesses was Caliente Cantina, a restaurant that opened in downtown San Pedro in 2014 and closed within a year.

Sandoval’s business background came back to haunt her during the campaign, after The Times reported that the state’s labor commissioner found that Cantina Investments LLC, a company Sandoval helped form, failed to pay four of the restaurant’s workers — a violation commonly known as wage theft. Sandoval initially distanced herself from the business, then said she fired some of her workers for theft and drug use. After several supporters rescinded their endorsements, Sandoval apologized and began negotiating payment to those workers.

During the campaign, Sandoval has criticized McOsker over his lobbying work and the political support he has received from real estate groups. McOsker, in turn, has sent mailers to voters focusing on Sandoval’s wage theft woes — and the endorsers who fled her campaign after learning of those cases.

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Enzo Smith