GARDENA — Former Assemblymember Warren Furutani has announced that he will run for the State Senate next year.

He is seeking the 35th Senate District seat currently held by Isadore Hall (D-Compton), who will run for Congress. Former Assemblymember Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) is also a declared candidate.

Warren Furutani speaks at a rally for the re-election of Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi in October 2014. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)
Warren Furutani speaks at a rally for the re-election of Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi in October 2014. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

The district includes Carson, Compton, West Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, West Carson, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington.

Furutani, a Democrat, has had a long career in public service, having served on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education (elected in 1987), on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees (elected in 1999), and in the State Assembly, representing District 55 from 2008 to 2012.

In those three positions, he has represented two-thirds of the Senate district, he told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s not a new area for me.”

In the Assembly, he chaired the Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee, served on the Labor and Employment, Transportation, and Utilities and Commerce committees, and worked on the Master Plan for Higher Education.

Furutani ran for the 15th District seat on the Los Angeles City Council but lost to Joe Buscaino in a 2012 runoff.

In 2013, Mayor Antonio Villraigosa appointed Furutani to the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, but later that year Mayor Eric Garcetti overhauled the board and named a slate of his own nominees.

If the voters return him to the Legislature, Furutani said, he will continue to make education a priority.

Born in San Pedro and raised in Gardena, Furutani is a fourth-generation Japanese American. His grandfather was a mechanic on Terminal Island who repaired motors on tuna boats. During World War II, Furutani’s grandparents and father, who was in high school at the time, were forced to leave their home with only 48 hours’ notice and were sent to an internment camp in Rohwer, Ark. In camp, his father met his mother, who was from Elk Grove. His father was drafted into the military while still incarcerated. After the war, his parents returned to San Pedro to start their family.

During his tenure in the Assembly, Furutani authored a bill that granted honorary college degrees to Japanese Americans whose education was disrupted due to their wrongful incarceration. As a member of the Board of Education, he led the effort to grant honorary high school diplomas to Nisei internees.

A product of the Los Angeles public education system, he graduated from Gardena High School in 1965 and earned a liberal arts degree from Antioch University. He is married to Lisa Abe Furutani, and they are the proud parents of two grown sons.



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