Six candidates qualified to be placed on the ballot for the special primary election Tuesday, September 13th, to fill a vacancy in the California State Assembly 53rd District created by the June death of Assemblymember Mike Gordon.

The September 13th election will be an open primary, allowing voters to vote for any of the candidates, regardless of party affiliation.

If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote plus one vote in the September 13th primary, the top vote getters from each political party will face off in a general election Tuesday, November 8th.

The September 13th primary candidates are:

– Mary Jo Ford, a Republican businesswoman, is a physician and educator from Manhattan Beach.

She is a doctor of anesthesiology, owns her own pain management company and has written articles on and taught on the subject of pain management.

She is fluent in Spanish and French, and also has a degree in international relations.

Born the youngest of seven children, she said that her father, a World War II veteran, and her mother, who worked in a school cafeteria, “ingrained in her a love of country and the belief that government’s primary role is to provide safety and opportunity for its citizens.”

– Greg Hill, a Republican, is an insurance and financial planning businessman from Redondo Beach.

Hill is also a former Redondo Beach mayor and City Council member who lost the 53rd District seat to Gordon last year.

“Assemblyman Gordon was a tough Democratic campaigner and a passionate defender of his party’s ideals,” Hill said. “I think all of us wish the circumstances were different.”

– Ted Lieu, a Democrat, is a Torrance City Council member.

He is also a major in the Air Force Reserves and served on active duty for four years in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

He was Gordon’s campaign chair last year and said, “California lost a great leader and the South Bay lost a remarkable voice” with Gordon’s death.

“I am running because I have a passion for public service and I care deeply about making our community a better place,” Lieu said.

– Paul Nowatka, a Republican, is a Torrance City Council member.

Nowatka is also a retired police lieutenant who worked 33 years for the Torrance Police Department.

He was elected to the Torrance City Council in 2000 and currently serves as chair of the Citizen Development and Enrichment Committee.

n James Smith, a Peace and Freedom Party candidate, is a community labor organizer from Venice.

“As a longtime labor and community organizer, I know that the politicians of both parties are not addressing the real needs of most Californians,” Smith said.

Smith is a former treasurer for the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council and he ran for the State Assembly 53rd District seat last year.

He said he wants to “light a fire under both Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento.”

n Paul Whitehead, a Republican, is a schoolteacher from Los Angeles.

Whitehead teaches for the Los Angeles Unified School District and lost to Congresswoman Jane Harman last year in a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

He also filed papers but did not run in this year’s race for an open seat in Los Angeles City Council District 11, a campaign ultimately won by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl.

In 1988, Whitehead was a paid staff member for then-Vice President George Bush’s presidential campaign.

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