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James Hahn

James Hahn
James Hahn in 2010 at the Long Beach Port
Judge, Los Angeles County, California Superior Court
Assumed office
November 5, 2008
Appointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger
40th Mayor of Los Angeles
In office
July 1, 2001 – July 1, 2005
Preceded by Richard Riordan
Succeeded by Antonio Villaraigosa
15th City Attorney of Los Angeles
In office
July 1, 1985 – July 1, 2001
Preceded by Ira Reiner
Succeeded by Rocky Delgadillo
5th City Controller of Los Angeles
In office
July 1, 1981 – July 1, 1985
Preceded by Ira Reiner
Succeeded by Rick Tuttle
Personal details
Born James Kenneth Hahn
(1950-07-03) July 3, 1950
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Monica Hahn (divorced)
Relations Father: Kenneth Hahn
Sister: Janice Hahn
Uncle: Gordon Hahn
Children 2
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Pepperdine University (B.A, J.D)
Religion Churches of Christ

James Kenneth "Jim" Hahn (born July 3, 1950) is an American lawyer, politician and member of the Democratic Party. Hahn was elected the 40th Mayor of Los Angeles in 2001.[1] He served until 2005, at which time he was defeated in his bid for re-election. Prior to his term as mayor, Hahn served in several other capacities for the city of Los Angeles, including Deputy City Attorney (1975–1979), City Controller (1981–1985) and City Attorney (1985–2001). Hahn is the only individual in the city's history to have been elected to all three citywide offices. He is currently a sitting judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

As Mayor, Hahn appointed Bill Bratton, the former NYPD Commissioner, as Police Chief of Los Angeles and chose not to renew Bernard Parks's second term as Chief.[2] Bratton's appointment is widely seen as leading to the sharp declines in Los Angeles' crime rate and improved morale in the department.[3] Hahn also led the successful campaign to defeat secession in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, and San Pedro, thereby keeping Los Angeles intact. While he is noted primarily for these two accomplishments, they also helped lead to his unsuccessful re-election bid; African Americans upset at Parks' ousting and San Fernando Valley residents disappointed with the secession verdict had been the two constituencies that had propelled him to victory in 2001.

Hahn is the brother of Congresswoman Janice Hahn, the nephew of former California State Assemblyman and Los Angeles City Councilman Gordon Hahn, and the son of former Los Angeles City Councilman and long-time Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn.


  • Early life 1
  • City Controller 2
  • City Attorney 3
  • Mayor 4
    • Homeland security and public safety 4.1
    • Housing, economic development, and homeless shelters 4.2
    • Education, workforce development, youth, and families 4.3
    • Energy and the environment 4.4
    • Transportation 4.5
    • City services and community engagement 4.6
  • Criticism as Mayor and re-election campaign 5
  • Family 6
  • Post-mayoral career 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Hahn was born on July 3, 1950 in Los Angeles, the son of Ramona (Fox) and Kenneth Hahn,[4] and was raised in the Morningside Park district of Inglewood near South Los Angeles. Hahn attended Manchester Avenue Elementary School, Daniel Freeman Elementary School, Horace Mann Junior High School, and Los Angeles Lutheran Middle & Senior High School.

He graduated from the Los Angeles campus of Pepperdine University in California magna cum laude with a Bachelor's Degree in English and a minor in journalism in 1972. He received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 1975. In 1994, he was selected as the School of Law's Distinguished Alumnus. While at Seaver College, he assisted in the development of a paralegal program for the Family Law Center of the Legal Aid Society and during law school, he clerked for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

Upon graduation in 1975 until 1979, Hahn worked as a prosecutor and deputy city attorney in the office of the City Attorney. From 1979–1981, he was in private practice with Robert Horner.

City Controller

In 1981 he was elected the fifth City Controller of Los Angeles and served until 1985. He was at the time the youngest person ever elected to that position. .

City Attorney

Hahn served from 1985 to 2001 as Los Angeles City Attorney, an office of 358 attorneys, support staff of 346, with branch offices in 21 locations citywide. As City Attorney, Hahn worked to rid LA's neighborhoods of gang activity through the use of gang injunctions. He was involved in crafting state legislation regarding gang enforcement by writing the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act.

During Hahn's tenure as City Attorney, he led the litigation to stop the Joe Camel ad campaign and reached a settlement of 312 million dollars for the city. He then created the Tobacco Enforcement Project to prevent the sale of tobacco to minors.

He re-established a Domestic Violence Unit and sponsored over 30 pieces of relevant legislation, ensuring that California has tough domestic violence laws.

Special units in the office included AIDS/HIV Discrimination, Environmental Protection, Housing Enforcement, Consumer Protection, Special Enforcement, and Governmental Law and Enforcement. He also managed a Dispute Resolution Program. Aside from the special units, the office was divided into a criminal branch and a civil branch. Hahn required all of his attorneys to receive ethnic and religious tolerance training from the Museum of Tolerance.


Hahn was elected in 2001, defeating Antonio Villaraigosa to serve as the 40th mayor of Los Angeles.

Homeland security and public safety

Hahn rejected Bernard Parks for a second term as Los Angeles Police Chief. He then appointed former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton to the position. Together with Bratton, he reinstated the community policing program, implemented a flexible work week schedule and the COMPSTAT system, and initiated a comprehensive recruitment and retention campaign. The results were impressive; morale significantly rose in the department and there was the first increase in the ranks in ten years. In addition, all areas of crime dropped steadily, making it the second safest large city in the United States. He also ensured for the first time in the city's history that there be at least one ambulance at every fire station. He convened a Homeland Security Cabinet in his office, hosted an annual Homeland Security summit, coordinated Los Angeles' Operation Archangel to protect its infrastructure, and lobbied for state and federal public safety grants. After September 11, the United States Conference of Mayors appointed him to serve as Chair of its Aviation Security Task Force. For these combined efforts, Hahn was endorsed in his re-election campaign by the Police Protective League and United Firefighters of Los Angeles.

Housing, economic development, and homeless shelters

Hahn created a $100 million housing trust fund which constructed thousands of units of affordable housing throughout the city and expanded the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance to convert dilapidated buildings into mixed use residential properties. He identified the funding to keep the city's homeless shelters open year round and met with civic leaders across the county to establish a blue ribbon commission called Bring LA Home to end homelessness in Los Angeles County within a decade. He also worked with Councilmembers Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti to initiate and sign into law over six business tax reforms to make Los Angeles more equitable with its neighboring jurisdictions and attract new business. His Office of Housing, Homelessness, and Economic Development promoted small businesses, women and minority owned businesses, and brought in over ten billion dollars in private construction.

While Mayor, Hahn created the Mayor's Office of International Trade and led two trade trips, one to Asia and one to Mexico.

In his trip to Asia, Mayor Hahn met with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung, Beijing Mayor Liu Qi and Shanghai Mayor Chen Liang Yu. Mayor Hahn received the medal of honorary citizenship from Mayor of Seoul Lee Myung-bak at Seoul City Hall. In Beijing, Hahn established an agreement concerning the 2008 Olympics, creating trade offices in both cities, designating Los Angeles as gateway to Beijing and allowing Los Angeles firms to be hired to oversee the renovation of the Beijing airport. Mayor Hahn, working with the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, launched a program in Japan called "See My LA" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Dodger Kazuhisa Ishii. In Korea, he partnered with Korean soccer star Hong Myung-bo to encourage Koreans to come to Los Angeles to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Koreans in Los Angeles. Both campaigns were aimed to increase tourism from Japan and Korea. In addition, Hahn established an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association to exchange rare and exotic animals to be displayed at the Los Angeles Zoo. To improve regional air service in LA, Hahn convinced EVA airlines to fly out of Ontario International Airport. The most prominent agreement was with the Port of LA and the Ports of Beijing and Shanghai, expanding service to the Port of Los Angeles, ensuring that Asian cargo ships are plugged into natural power, and sharing technology and resources between the ports.

In Mexico, Hahn received an airport security briefing at Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport and held meetings with Mexican business and airlines executives and Mexican President Vicente Fox. As a result of his Mexico trip, AeroMexico airlines decided to fly out of Ontario International Airport, providing a more regional approach to air service in the Los Angeles area. In addition, he secured a deal with Grupo Gigante to open five of their stores in Los Angeles to improve the economy. He also set up a Mexico Trade Desk within the Mayor’s Office of International Trade to increase opportunities.

Education, workforce development, youth, and families

Hahn partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District to expedite the construction of new campuses to relieve overcrowding, while contracting the construction to Los Angeles firms. He also worked to create joint-use partnerships with the district so that the schools become the central focus of their respective neighborhoods. He expanded the after school program for elementary school students, LA's Best, to an additional 5,500 students, bringing the total to more than 20,000 served, and supported the middle school after school program LA's Bridges. He created the Literacy @ Work program to train LA's workforce, and the Free Cash for College Program to place more low income high school seniors in colleges and universities nationwide. In 2002 he launched the One City One Book initiative One Book, One City LA, by picking Fahrenheit 451 as the book and kicking off the program with a news conference with the book's author, Ray Bradbury. [5] Each of Hahn's budgets expanded LA's infrastructure of parks and libraries, while simultaneously increasing their hours of operation, and included the funds to manage a summer jobs program for city youth.

Energy and the environment

Hahn issued an executive order to require that 17% of all of Los Angeles's energy come from "natural" sources by 2017. He began to convert the city's fleet of vehicles to hybrids and prevented the city from investing in a coal plant in Utah. At the Port of Los Angeles, he created the Alternative Maritime Power Program to enable large cruise and cargo ships to plug into clean power while docked at the port, and pledged to make Los Angeles a landfill free city by 2006.


His Traffic Safety and Congestion Relief Plan made improvements to the 100 worst intersections in the city and his Street Smart Program made improvements to 35 of the busiest thoroughfares. As part of his duties as mayor, Hahn was a member of the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and advocated for better public transportation for the county.

City services and community engagement

Hahn led the successful efforts to defeat secession in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, and San Pedro, effectively keeping the city together. He then created a ten point program called Teamwork LA to improve city services and constituent affairs, so as not to anger residents ever again to the point where they would want to secede. Among other objectives, it created a one stop shop neighborhood city hall in the seven major geographical areas of the city, employed a Neighborhood Area director in his office to manage each of the areas, and created the city's 24/7 nonemergency phone line 311, "your one call to City Hall". He also implemented priority based budgeting to include neighborhood councils in the budget process. When he became Mayor, there were zero neighborhood councils; when he left four years later, there were over 80. He provided each council with $50,000 for any purpose and an additional $100,000 for street and sidewalk improvements. With the assistance of Councilman Eric Garcetti, he created the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs to engage immigrants in civic life.

Criticism as Mayor and re-election campaign

Hahn was unable to deliver on his promise to add 1000 police officers to the Los Angeles Police Department, as the plan was turned down several times by the City Council. Hahn's lack of finesse in handling the ouster of Parks also alienated him from some in Los Angeles' African-American community, which still held Parks in high regard. That community, which remembered Hahn's father with affinity as a supporter of civil rights, had helped to propel Hahn to victory in the 2001 mayoral election. However, in the aftermath of Hahn's rejection of Parks, African-American support fell away from Hahn in his 2005 bid for re-election.

Additionally, many criticized Hahn for not playing a more significant role in helping to solve the city's transportation problems; he passed his turn to chair the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors. He was also roundly criticized for his plans for Los Angeles International Airport. There were also ethics questions surrounding his administration, including pay to play allegations; no evidence has been found linked to him.

In the March 8, 2005 general election, Hahn placed second to Antonio Villaraigosa; placing ahead of former Speaker of the Assembly Bob Hertzberg, Councilman Bernard Parks, State Senator Richard Alarcon, and about seven lesser known challengers. As the top two vote getters, Villaraigosa and Hahn proceeded to the runoff election held on May 17, 2005. In that election, Hahn lost to Villaraigosa.


Hahn is from a family of politicians. His father, Kenneth Hahn, served as an LA City Councilman and as an LA County Supervisor for 40 years. Hahn's uncle, Gordon Hahn, was a state assemblyman and an LA City Councilman and another uncle, John Hahn, was assistant county clerk. His cousin, Dale Hahn, is a Superior Court judge in San Mateo County. His sister, Janice Hahn, represented the 15th District of the Los Angeles City Council and currently served in Congress.

Post-mayoral career

After leaving office, Hahn accepted the position of a managing director and partner at the firm Chadwick Saylor & Company.

On October 19, 2005, Hahn took part in a discussion entitled "The State of Los Angeles", sponsored by a non-profit organization called "Days of Dialogue". The other panelists were former Mayor Richard Riordan and current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the only other living mayors of the city of Los Angeles. "Days of Dialogue" was founded after the notorious O.J. Simpson trial in order to encourage discussions on key issues in the Los Angeles region. It is currently chaired by Los Angeles County Supervisor and former Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

On December 12, 2005, Hahn delivered a eulogy at the funeral of longtime city councilman Marvin Braude. On January 7, 2006, Hahn attended and spoke at a memorial service at Los Angeles City Hall and at a private residence for former County Federation of Labor leader Bill Robertson. Since leaving office, he has also attended a number of other events of significance.

On March 1, 2006, it was announced that through Chadwick Saylor & Company, Hahn will become CEO of Los Angeles Development Partners, L.P. (LADP). The partnership consists of an $150 million fund managed by Chadwick Saylor & Company with numerous investors. Its goal is to develop affordable housing and other economic development projects around transit lines, including the Metrolink and Metro Rail. The projects will be completed by unionists. Hahn will be in charge of all of the operations of the entire fund. Hahn left the company at the beginning of 2008, according to trade publication Real Estate Alert and joined a prominent mediation firm. The fund's status is unclear.

On September 20, 2006, more than a year after leaving office, a Steve Lopez column ran in the Los Angeles Times explaining Hahn's new life in the private sector. Hahn said that he is now as happy as ever and for the first time in decades, can truly enjoy his city. He gets to spend more time with his son and daughter and has been in a steady relationship with a woman for over a year. He also enjoys his new work getting unions to invest money in local projects around transit lines to relieve traffic and smog [3].

On November 8, 2007, Hahn's official portrait was displayed in the Hall of Mayors Portrait Gallery on the 26th floor of City Hall. The event was accompanied by ceremonies on the 26th floor as well as before the City Council [4].

In May 2008, Hahn said that he had submitted paperwork requisite for the pursuit of a judicial appointment by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Noting that he found himself missing public service, Hahn said he'd also spoken personally to the governor about his interest in becoming a judge.[6] On November 5, 2008, Schwarzenegger appointed Hahn to fill a vacant judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.[7]

Hahn presently presides over Traffic Court cases in Santa Monica.


  1. ^ "Hahn wins Los Angeles mayor's race". CNN. June 6, 2001. 
  2. ^ Dunphy, Jack (May 15, 2005). "Bratton: Cop or Candidate?". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ Nagourney, Adam (August 12, 2011). "In Los Angeles, a Police Force Transformed". The New York Times. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Gold, Matea (2002-03-15), "To Ignite Interest in Books, L.A. Is Urged to Read 'Fahrenheit 451'", Los Angeles Times: B3,  
  6. ^ de Turenne, Veronique (2008-05-27), "Judge Jim Hahn? That's what LA's former mayor is hoping", Los Angeles Times 
  7. ^ Chong, Jia-Rui (2008-11-05), "Former L.A. Mayor Hahn gets judgeship", Los Angeles Times 

External links

  • Hahn for Mayor 2001
  • Hahn for Mayor 2005
  • Chadwick Saylor & Company James Hahn, Managing Director
  • League of Women Voters of California, 2001 Election
  • League of Women Voters of California, 2005 Election
  • Portrait of James K. Hahn by Margaret Holland Sargent
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Riordan
Mayor of Los Angeles
July 1, 2001 – July 1, 2005
Succeeded by
Antonio Villaraigosa
Preceded by
Ira Reiner
City Attorney of Los Angeles, California
July 1, 1985 – July 1, 2001
Succeeded by
Rocky Delgadillo
Preceded by
Ira Reiner
City Controller of Los Angeles, California
July 1, 1981 – July 1, 1985
Succeeded by
Rick Tuttle
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