Carr Claims Crime-Fighting Experience, Bipartisan Sensibility as Keys to His Electability
By Joe Taglieri
Elan Carr is one of eight candidates vying for the 5th District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that will become available next year when term limits force longtime incumbent Michael Antonovich out of the office he has held since 1980.
A diverse field of hopefuls representing a wide range of personal and professional experience mark this burgeoning electoral contest. Carr, a 47-year-old county gang prosecutor, seems to fit somewhere in the middle between current elected officeholders and insiders at various levels of government at one end, contrasted by newcomers from assorted segments of the district’s citizenry at the opposite margin.
As a member of the local law enforcement community, Carr is certainly no stranger to politics.
In 2014 Carr, a Republican, ran for the open seat in the heavily Democratic Westside district represented for decades by Henry Waxman, who chose retirement over another re-election bid. Despite the partisan tilt, Carr did manage to garner more than 40 percent of the vote that gave state legislator Ted Lieu his first term in Congress.
For the supervisor race, Carr is again proving his adeptness at fundraising. His campaign issued a statement July 1 announcing $415,000 in contributions received since February as well as endorsements from law enforcement groups and conservative commentator Dennis Prager.
Not surprisingly for a candidate with a law enforcement and military background, public safety is the leading issue in Carr’s platform.
“I think the most important job a government has is to keep people safe,” Carr said, noting his concern about rising crime rates throughout the county.
“My job–one as L.A. County supervisor–will be to give law enforcement the tools they need to fight crime, to keep violent offenders behind bars and to protect our communities, our streets and our schools,” Carr said.
A close second in terms of legislative priorities is improving education.
“Far too often, I have to prosecute kids,” Carr said.
“We have got to take care of America’s kids, or we will consign yet another generation to be lost to the streets and gang violence,” he added.
Carr suggested programs such as “universal preschool” and job training on public school campuses “so that kids can get a sense of self-esteem and their own ability to provide.” After-school programs are another key component of Carr’s education priorities.
“You can’t handcuff your way out of the rising crime problem we’re facing,” Carr said, setting up the third prong of his legislative focal points – stemming the exodus of jobs from the county.
“Our job creators are fleeing L.A.” to other parts of California and neighboring states, he observed. “We have a tax and regulatory infrastructure that is suffocating the life out of our job creators.”
Carr also noted his intention to focus on improving roads, sidewalks and water infrastructure.
“The public is looking at this and there’s a feeling of general decay, that the government has lost its ability to take care of us,” Carr said. “That loss of confidence in our government is very, very damaging. I want to restore that confidence.”
Biographically speaking, a worldly, at times dramatic family history adds color and depth complementing Carr’s rather accomplished professional pedigree.
Campaign literature describes Carr as “the son of immigrants. His mother fled to Israel from Iraq after watching her father be taken away by Iraqi authorities. His stepfather fled to Israel from Nazi-occupied Bulgaria. Both eventually immigrated to the United States and became proud American citizens.”
Carr grew up in New York and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, then a law degree from Northwestern. He said he practiced law in New York City and specialized in corporate litigation after moving to Los Angeles in 1997.
In 1996 the government of Israel hired him as an adviser to help establish the nation’s first public defender’s office.
Fluent in Iraqi Arabic, Carr joined the U.S. Army shortly before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to campaign literature. Carr was deployed in Iraq from 2003–2004, where “he helped to lead an anti-terrorism team of the U.S. Central Command … in life-saving missions throughout Baghdad and much of the country.”
Carr also applied his legal expertise in rebuilding the post-Saddam Hussein legal system. He trained Iraqi judges in criminal and constitutional law and prosecuted insurgents who attacked American troops.
A decorated Iraq veteran, Carr presently holds the rank of major in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Once a month he reports for duty with the 78th Legal Operations Detachment in Los Alamitos.
“When you combine my military record, my record as a crime fighter for 10 years now and my ability to reach across the aisle and fashion solutions to problems confronting all of us, I think that makes me uniquely suited to this job and to not only holding this office but to getting a great deal done,” Carr said.
He emphasized his ability to transcend “policy divides” and party lines.
“On a board that’s dominated by liberal Democrats, it’s not enough simply to be somebody who’s going to yell into the wind,” Carr said. “You have to be a supervisor who can build bridges, who can build coalitions and actually push policies that get passed. It’s not good enough to pound the table and talk about what needs to get done if you can’t get it done.”
Carr said he currently still lives in West Los Angeles, though he and his family are considering homes in the 5th District’s San Gabriel Valley and north San Fernando Valley regions.
He and his wife Dr. Dahlia Carr have three young children – Hannah, 7, Rachelle, 4, and Samuel, 1.
The primary election takes place June 7, 2016.