PASADENA — With the primary less than a week away, the hottest campaigns for the Board of City Directors have emerged as bitter political trials for two incumbents seeking reelection next Tuesday.
In both contests, the campaign rhetoric has spilled from the political arena into the courtroom.
In District 5, incumbent Jess Hughston is embroiled in a controversy with challenger Margaret Sedenquist, a wealthy businesswoman against whom Hughston filed a $2-million libel suit last week.
Hughston claims that campaign literature distributed by Sedenquist contains "absolute lies" that Hughston used city funds and resources to distribute his reelection literature. Court action on the suit is not expected until after the election.
Holden Suit Dismissed
In District 3, a suit filed against the city by challenger Chris Holden brought added attention to his battle against incumbent Loretta Thompson-Glickman. The suit was dismissed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Holden, the 24-year-old son of former state Sen. Nate Holden (D-Culver City), alleged that the city's consolidation of voting precincts for the election gave an unfair advantage to his opponent. Superior Court Judge John L. Cole denied Holden's request that the city reopen the consolidated precincts, saying, "I see not the slightest reason for granting (the request)."
In the third race for a seat on the largely conservative, seven-member board, incumbent Bill Thomson faces retired businessman J. Albert Curran in District 7, a wealthy area in the southeast portion of the city. The candidates have conducted a quiet campaign devoid of public controversy.
Voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If any of the top vote getters fails to secure 50% plus one vote, a runoff election will be held in April.
Hughston Letters at Issue
Hughston said he filed his suit after Sedenquist sent out two campaign mailers that implied he has misused public funds for his campaign. He said he believes the charges were directed at follow-up letters he mailed to his constituents in November after a walk-through of his district.
"I walk my district, then I send letters," Hughston said. "It's the kind of thing anyone would do after walking their district." Hughston also said that the letters, which are printed on city stationery and mailed at city expense, have not been sent since he declared his candidacy.
"She is slinging mud like you wouldn't believe," Hughston said. "I really couldn't believe that she would be like this."
Sedenquist dismissed Hughston's suit and his allegations as "the desperation tactics of a losing candidate. He used city postage and he used city letterhead. There's no doubt about it.
"The incumbent has failed to deal with any of the fiscal problems of the city. That's not mudslinging, that's telling where he's falling down as a city director."
Hughston Spends More
Sedenquist, who owns several apartments, a real estate brokerage and 50% of a plastics manufacturing company, has amassed a sizable campaign chest and has spent nearly $30,000--more than twice as much as Hughston.
And she says she is confident of winning. "I don't go into things that I expect to lose."
In the heavily minority District 3, challenger Holden said this week that he, too, is confident of winning. He bases that confidence, he said, on his belief that Glickman is out of touch with the needs of her constituents.
"People can't reach her," Holden said. "She publicly states that she doesn't have time, because she needs to get her business going and find a job. That's not the peoples' problem. Maybe she shouldn't be running then."
As city director for the northwest area, Holden said he would concentrate on reducing violence and crime while providing alternatives for such activity through job training and educational programs.
Glickman, who served as Pasadena's first black mayor and is seeking her third term on the board, bristled at Hudson's contentions about her inaccessibilty to constituents.
"My constituents certainly call me at all hours of the day and night," Glickman said. "They certainly drop by my house whenever they want to. I've always had an open-door policy. I don't think that's an inaccessible person."
About Hudson's claims that she devotes too much time to personal business, Glickman replied: "We are part-time city directors. We are paid $50 a week. Mr. Holden is obviously financially secure and he doesn't have to worry about making a living. I do."
Glickman, who vacillated for months about seeking reelection, made a last-minute decision to run in December. "It's going to be a hard campaign," she said this week.
Will she win?
"Absolutely," she said.