• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Joe Buscaino 'grateful' for shot at LA City Council seat

January 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Joe Buscaino is ready to take the short walk from Los Angeles Police Department headquarters to Los Angeles City Hall.

Senior Lead Officer Joe Buscaino was elected to Janice Hahn's old council seat in Tuesday's special election.

It was a clear victory for the 37 year old. Preliminary results show Buscaino racked up nearly 61 percent of the votes to Assemblyman Warren Furutani's 39 percent.

About 16,000 votes were cast, meaning just 16 percent of registered voters went to the polls.

Buscaino was assigned to the LAPD's Harbor Station for the past six years. Buscaino says his police background attracted a lot of the votes.

"Senior lead officer is somewhat like a small town councilman, who problem solves and works with community-based organizations. Just another type of experience I bring to this seat," Buscaino said.

Buscaino said he was "grateful" for the opportunity to serve on the council.

The election of a political unknown was not too surprising to some City Hall insiders, who say voters seem to be growing tired of life-long politicians.

"I think the people are fed up with the Washington politics, they're fed up with the Sacramento politics and on a local level they want to see people who are real people, who are not professional politicians, who are real people trying to help," said Councilman Dennis Zine.

Zine is also a former police officer, but one who transitioned to the council through a series of other political positions. He still serves as a reserve officer, as does Councilman Mitchell Englander.

Buscaino has been on leave without pay since September and says when he's sworn in on the council he will resign from the LAPD and plans on becoming a reserve officer.

"I truly miss being out on the streets, being in the black and white helping people," Buscaino said.

Soon he'll find himself in City Hall, where few things are black and white and where smiles and hugs can disappear quickly.

Buscaino replaces Hahn, who was elected to Congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.