With the election still two years off, some established politicians are already eyeing the county's Third District representing most of the San Fernando Valley and L.A.'s Westside.
The Board of Supervisors seat has been held by Zev Yaroslavsky for the last 18 years but he is termed out in 2014, creating a rare open seat on a board whose five current members have a collective 90 years of service.
Former state senator and assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, 71, said she is "quite serious about running," while Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver, 58, is "studying the issues related to that position" before making his decision.
The Third District has 2 million residents spread out among communities that stretch in the Valley from Woodland Hills to Burbank and Sylmar, and further south from Malibu and Santa Monica to Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Los Feliz.
Yaroslavsky - who was elected to the county post in 1994 after serving 19 years on the Los Angeles City Council - announced recently that he is not going to run for L.A. mayor and plans to step away from public service after his term ends.
He said whoever takes his place should think of the entire county, and not just the Third District.
"I think, first and foremost, that person needs to have the interest of the county - as a whole - at heart," he said. "The fiscal health of the county is paramount because it drives every decision, and all the supervisors should make sure the county lives within its means and doesn't get into the kind of trouble that the city of Los Angeles and others have come to."
He said the incoming supervisor would also have to contend with the county's new public safety responsibilities under realignment; implement federal health care reform; administer health and social services; provide child welfare; expand school-based clinics and launch the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital.
In the Third District, Yaroslavsky said the two major issues are expanding the public transportation system with projects such as light rail in the Sepulveda Pass; and the preservation and protection of the Santa Monica Mountains and the coast.
Kuehl, who served eight years in the state Senate and six years in the state Assembly before being termed out in 2008, said her experience should help her quickly pick up where Yaroslavsky leaves off.
"After 14 years in the state Legislature, I have acquired a lot of knowledge, understanding and information about health issues, transportation issues, budgets, judiciary matters and the courts, social services - all of the things the county is deeply engaged in," said Kuehl, who lives in Santa Monica. Her state Senate district included communities in the southern part of the Valley.
"Now that realignment is going forward, the county will be making decisions in these areas and I want to use the knowledge I gained in the Legislature to be part of that," she added.
If elected to replace Yaroslavsky, she would become the first openly gay member of the county Board of Supervisors. Kuehl, known for being a liberal Democrat, said among her accomplishments at the state Capitol were establishing paid family leave, requiring proper patient staffing ratios in every hospital and authoring several anti-discrimination laws.
In her youth, Kuehl was a popular actress in the television series, "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
In contrast to Kuehl, who is already planning to formally announce her candidacy next year, Shriver remains undecided.
"I'm trying to learn more about what the county does, to see if I can learn how to do it where I can be helpful," he said.
"I'm very interested in studying it, but not yet interested enough to do a poll, hire a consultant, study precincts," he added. "I haven't done what politicians do when they're getting ready to run."
Shriver added with the election still a couple years away, he wants to focus on his 3-year-old daughter, who just started school.
A nephew of President John F. Kennedy, and a brother of California's former first lady, Maria Shriver, he graduated cum laude from Yale, worked in journalism, venture capitalism and entertainment production. His parents were Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
With singer Bono, Shriver co-founded three organizations to help the poor and the sick in Africa.
He was elected to the Santa Monica City Council in 2004 by the highest percentage of voters in that city's history and amassed even more votes during his re-election. He said he has worked to reduce homelessness and clean Santa Monica Bay.