DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter
When Don Knabe was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last November, he was no stranger to the board or even to his own position on it.
Knabe, 53, was well versed in what the responsibilities, issues and difficulties of the Fourth District were after serving on predecessor Supervisor Deane Dana's staff since 1982 most of that time as Dana's chief of staff.
Prior to working for Dana, Knabe served for eight years on the Cerritos City Council, including two terms as mayor.
As supervisor for the Fourth District, Knabe is responsible for the southern portion of L.A. County, including San Pedro, Long Beach and Whittier.
Q: People always talk about the need for new blood in government. Since you worked for Deane Dana for so long, do you see yourself just as a continuation of him?
A: Oh, absolutely not. That was one of the things that I had to overcome in the campaign and I think we did a good job of it, because we won 62 percent to 38 percent. As I said throughout the campaign, Deane Dana is Deane Dana, and Don Knabe is Don Knabe.
My job as chief of staff was to prepare the supervisor for a number of different options, then he ultimately had to decide which way he was going to vote, or do what he had to do. And he was part of the public debate. If I agreed with that decision, fine, and if I didn't, my job was not to go out and publicly disagree.
Now I have that responsibility. For one, I'm part of the public debate. I get to cast my own votes I'm responsible for those. Prior to now I never cast a vote or got to be a part of the public debate.
And I think our styles are totally different. He was very supportive of my campaign and I owe him a lot, but I'm much more of a people person than he was.
Q: Other than in terms of style, how are you different than Dana, politically and philosophically?
A: I think it's more of a specific issue kind of situation. Philosophically, obviously we're not too much different. It's not a matter of being a liberal versus a conservative. It's more on specific issues.
On the economic development side, I put together a tremendous coalition of people, both business and labor. I had support that Supervisor Dana never had in the past. But where labor has opposed me in the past, they worked for me this time because of my involvement with efforts to save jobs at McDonnell Douglas and other labor issues. We may not agree on every issue, but at least I'm willing to talk about the economic issues. Jobs are important to me, and they know that, and that is a labor issue.
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