REDONDO BEACH — When voters cast ballots March 5 in three City Council races, they will be determining what city politicos view as a clear-cut, pivotal battle between two well-defined factions: a pro-growth group headed by mayoral candidate Jerry Goddard and a slow-growth (or, some would argue, no-growth) group headed by Mayor Barbara Doerr.
After four years in which the council has approved several major development projects, advocates of slower growth are hoping that the upcoming vote will swing the council balance in their favor.
"It's not just a lackadaisical-type campaign," said city school board member Valerie Dombrowski, who is challenging incumbent Archie Snow for the North Redondo District 4 council seat. "There's a lot at stake."
Three seats are up for grabs on the five-seat council--those of Snow, harbor-area incumbent Ray Amys and two-term South Redondo Councilman Goddard.
On major issues, Goddard, Snow and Councilman Ron Cawdrey have tended to vote as a majority bloc--approving such projects as an eight-story, 156-room hotel complex at King Harbor and supporting development of the entire closed Aviation High School campus for office buildings. (Voters, however, rejected full development at Aviation in a ballot measure last summer.)
Amys, meanwhile, has been Doerr's main--and often only--supporter.
Taken individually, the council contests feature a combination of highly visible and little-known candidates sporting a variety of views on such issues as the Inn at King Harbor and condominium construction throughout the city.
But overall, the vote could result in a whole new look for the council--either in March or in May. With 11 contenders seeking the three available seats--and candidates needing more than 50% of the vote to win, May 14 runoffs are likely.
Rundowns on the candidates in each of the three races follow.
District 1--After eight years in office, Goddard is required to vacate his South Redondo post. Seeking to fill the breach are 10-year city treasurer Alice De Long and two political newcomers, John Chapman and Kevin Stapleton.
De Long, 50, a staunch supporter of Doerr, is hoping to help forge a new council alliance with the mayor, who must fend off Goddard and airline pilot Gary Smith to win a second term.
"I've disagreed with many of the decisions that have been made (by the current council) and I'd like to have a say," De Long said. "I think with my experience, I can be a real asset to the council."
De Long, along with Doerr, fought strenuously last year in favor of successful ballot measures to halt a major road-widening project along Flagler Lane and to set aside a portion of the Aviation High campus for city-run recreational facilities.
"That's what the people really wanted, and if we represent the people, and we understand what they want . . . there is going to be a change," the 23-year Redondo resident said.
De Long, who also supports a proposed ballot measure to limit new harbor-front development, surprised many when she entered the council race--because if she wins, she must give up her $38,000-a-year, full-time treasurer's post for the $3,600-a-year part-time council post.
De Long said she is not concerned about resigning because she can return to work in the private field of commercial finance.
Her opponents stress their professional experience.
John (Jack) Chapman, 43, has 16 years experience with the Los Angeles County Planning and Building departments--experience he says can help the council in dealing with planning issues. Stapleton, 37, a lawyer with offices in Lawndale, said his professional expertise will help him resolve council disputes--forging a consensus on issues where members have divergent opinions.
Although both deny the claims, Chapman has been painted by Doerr supporters as a candidate of the Goddard faction and Stapleton--along with De Long--has been painted by Goddard partisans as a candidate of the Doerr faction.
"I'm really not with any faction since I'm a newcomer to these people and Redondo politics itself," said Chapman, a 16-year Redondo resident. "I believe I'd be a good bridge between the many factions in Redondo and would bring a new breadth of expertise."
While working for the county, Chapman has specialized in regional planning and redevelopment projects, serving as building zoning coordinator for the county engineer and design consultant at Marina del Rey for the county's design control board.
Chapman, a member of the city's Public Improvement Commission, has also served on interview boards for city Planning Department employees at the request of city Planning Director Harlan Curwick. Curwick, he said, encouraged him to run for council, and Goddard, a neighbor of Chapman, has also encouraged him to become involved in community affairs.
As for development issues, Chapman supports projects that fall within the parameters of the city's general plan. He said he favors the Inn at King Harbor because it conforms to city planning guidelines.