Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas' run for Congress this year came about almost by happenstance. "I had no thought of running for Congress," Cardenas said in an interview. "I served six years in the state Assembly and three terms here at City Hall, and I was beginning to think of what's next?"
But the redistricting process two years ago opened up the seat to him. The redrawing of the 29th Congressional District in the largely Latino north San Fernando Valley created the opportunity, when it moved incumbent Rep. Howard Berman farther south into the 30th District and pitted him against fellow Democratic incumbent Rep. Brad Sherman.
While Sherman and Berman fight it out, Cardenas, 49, has found himself with
a relatively light race against independent David R. Hernandez.
Hernandez, 64, is a businessman who's run for office multiple times -- for Congress against Berman, for Los Angeles mayor, for the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees and, in 2002, for mayor of the proposed Valley city if secession had succeeded.
Hernandez said he is running to provide an independent voice in Congress.
"I'm running as an independent, but the reality is Democrats control the vote," Hernandez said.
"The reality is, it's not so much Cardenas as the whole Democratic structure," Hernandez added. "What I want to be is an independent voice in Congress, representing the people of this district. I'm not left or right. I will
vote for the things that make sense for this district."
Cardenas acknowledged he has been able to spend more time at home instead of on the campaign trail, and he has been able to donate money to other Democrats around the country to help in their campaigns -- which should help earn him favors in Washington.
The partisan atmosphere of Congress would not be new to Cardenas, although he said the scope of the problems, the size of the institution and the pace at which the federal body moves are quite different.
"I do like the nonpartisan atmosphere here at City Hall where you can talk with the person who opposes you and either get their support or not," Cardenas said. "It isn't like in Sacramento where you needed to get that last vote or two and they said they liked your idea but couldn't go against their party."
If he is elected, Cardenas said he wants to continue to work on a number of issues, particularly juvenile justice. Cardenas developed the gang intervention academy and also developed a way for former gang members to get out from under gang injunctions.
He also has been active in changing which firms the city hires to underwrite bonds, to open it up to smaller minority-owned firms.
Also, Cardenas has been active in pushing stricter policies to fight human trafficking and prevent the mistreatment of animals.
Cardenas said he is proud of the fact that he has always represented the Pacoima area, where he was born and grew up.
He is one of 11 children and studied to become an engineer before he went into the real estate business.
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