Paul Tanaka slowly returns to Los Angeles County sheriff’s race

A new video from Los Angeles County sheriff candidate Paul Tanaka.
A new video from Los Angeles County sheriff candidate Paul Tanaka.
Paul Tanaka (via YouTube)

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With less than two months to go before Election Day, Paul Tanaka’s campaign for Los Angeles County sheriff has resurfaced — after going nearly dark following his poor showing in the June primary. 

In a video that appeared on YouTube last Saturday — without any publicity — Tanaka touted his experience as a certified public accountant, mayor of Gardena and decades with the Sheriff's Department.

“I’m a 33-year veteran of law enforcement with a proven track record of fighting crime and making your community safer,” Tanaka said. Dressed in a blue golf shirt and sitting next to a tree in a park, a child playing on a swing behind him in the distance, Tanaka urges viewers to contact him if they have "any questions about who Paul Tanaka is."

Tanaka is gathering supporters for a potluck at his new El Monte headquarters this Saturday. It's his first campaign event since June.

His former campaign headquarters in Torrance shut down shortly after the primary. Tanaka said he wanted to give supporters time with their families over the summer.

Tanaka faces a tough race. The former number two at the sprawling Sheriff's Department, Tanaka won just 15 percent of the vote in the primaries. His opponent, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, captured 49 percent.

He remains the subject of a federal corruption investigation into the Sheriff's Department and a citizens' commission report that blames Tanaka for inmate abuse at the jails.

He didn't return calls for this story.

But Gary Miyatake, a photographer from Gardena who knows Tanaka personally, said he's frustrated with what he sees as unfair negative news coverage.

“The media is trying to damage his image — it’s pretty sad,” Miyatake said.

Miyatake said any problems at the agency rest with former Sheriff Lee Baca, who abruptly resigned in January. 

“The ultimate blame goes to the boss,” he said.

In his video, Tanaka alludes to his frustration with how he’s portrayed in the media and by his opponent.

“During the course of the next few weeks, you are going to hear some negative attacks that will be directed toward my campaign and could cause you to question my qualifications to be the next sheriff,” Tanaka said in the video.

At one point, he holds up a paper cup.

“If I could sit down with you over a cup of coffee," he said, "I would tell you a little more about the real Paul Tanaka.”