Paul Tanaka speaks at a campaign event on Aug. 21 at Cherrystones in Gardena.

GARDENA — Former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, candidate for L.A. County sheriff, held a fundraiser on Aug. 21 at Cherrystones Restaurant in Gardena.

Tanaka, who is also mayor of Gardena, retired on Aug. 1 after 31 years with the Sheriff’s Department. At the Gardena event, volunteers signed up to help with the campaign and pick up campaign signs and T-shirts. Tanaka has also created a website,, to reach out to voters. The election will take place in June 2014.

Bob Ahn drove from West Hollywood to attend the event. He works as a volunteer with the Sheriff’s Department at the Transit Service Bureau.

“I want to see Paul Tanaka win and he will make a helluva good sheriff,” Ahn said. “I know he can turn the whole department around.”

Tanaka said he was challenging Sheriff Lee Baca in order to bring change to the police force.

“There needs to be a change. What we need is to bring back a focus on good police work and making neighborhoods safer,” Tanaka stated during a speech to supporters.

Tanaka has himself come under fire for failing to crack down on abuse within the county jails. He said he felt that he had been made a scapegoat and was critical of his former boss, Baca.

“Number two always gets blamed for everything. I don’t believe that the citizens are in the mindset that we need to clean house. I think the citizens are in the mindset that we are concerned about public safety, so give us a candidate that gives us the kind of community and neighborhood environment that we want,” said Tanaka, speaking to The Rafu Shimpo.

“All I have ever stood for was good government and good police work. I believe that every person that lives in this county is entitled to be able to go to and from their home and have a relative sense of safety and peace of mind when they go there. They shouldn’t be bothered by thugs and crooks and whatever else is going on in their neighborhood.”

— Story and photo by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

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