REDONDO BEACH — Mayor Barbara Doerr, who has spent her first four-year term saying "no" to new development and road-widening projects across the city, received a "yes" vote from residents Tuesday, decisively defeating two-term City Councilman Jerry Goddard in her bid for reelection.
But even as Doerr rejoiced, she acknowledged that her battle to run the city is only half over.
"The makeup of the City Council is critical," said the mayor, moments after learning she had avoided a runoff by winning more than 50% of the vote--tallying 54.1% (4,106 votes) to Goddard's 43.4% (3,295 votes).
The trio of "slow-growth" candidates that Doerr favors--Alice De Long, incumbent Ray Amys and Valerie Dombrowski--all ran second to candidates favored by the more development-oriented Goddard faction--John Chapman, Kay Horrell and incumbent Archie Snow. A runoff will be held May 14.
In South Redondo's District 1, first-time contender Chapman, a county engineer, tallied 39.5% of the vote, compared to current City Treasurer De Long's 34.9%. A third candidate, attorney Kevin Stapleton, took the remaining 25.5%.
Real estate broker Horrell, who has also served as a Planning Commission member and president of the city's Chamber of Commerce, out-tallied harbor-area incumbent Amys 36.6% to 31.7%. Third-place finisher Rene Burke, who has agreed with Amys that the harbor is overdeveloped, earned 25.9% of the District 2 vote while newcomer Mark Keppler picked up 5.9%.
In North Redondo's District 4, incumbent Snow, a one-time council gadfly who is now closely allied with the city's leading businessmen, won 45.7%, compared to city school board trustee Dombrowski's 32%. Newcomers Steve Reiss and Carl Clark scored 15.8% and 6.5% respectively.
Doerr, who has veto power rather than a vote on council issues, said she is confident her allies can still turn things around. "I definitely feel from walking and talking to people that the community still appears concerned about development and they just want good government and good services," Doerr said.
But Goddard said he remains confident that the initial leaders will prove victorious. Voters, he said, must realize that if Doerr's allies take control of the council, "they would seriously injure the business community and the economics of the city."
Both sides agreed that the balance of power may rest with the third-place finishers--if they can mobilize their supporters behind specific candidates. Another factor will be the degree to which the finalists can get out the vote in May. On Tuesday, the voter turnout was 22%.
Stapleton, for one, said he is undecided whether to support Chapman or De Long. "What the people who voted for me will do is a key," he said, "(But) I just want to sit down and let the dust settle a little bit and then come out and make a statement."
Burke, who sides with Amys on the issues, refused to immediately endorse the incumbent. "It's his fight and he has to win it," he said. He added, however, that he would not endorse Horrell because he considers her to be a voice of harbor development interests.
Reiss was the only third-place finisher to come quickly to the aid of an opponent. The sales administrator said he firmly supports Dombrowski, but acknowledged, "I think we're in trouble, not Archie. That whole slate did outrageously well. Goddard didn't get in, but everyone else made a strong showing . . . and we'll have to redouble our efforts."
In the mayor's race, a third candidate, airline pilot Gary Smith, did no visible campaigning and was not a factor. Smith received 2.5% (192 votes).
The other city hall contest decided without the need for a runoff was for the new full-time city attorney's post. Part-time incumbent Gordon Phillips defeated newcomer Harlan Swain by 64% to 36%.
'Vote of Confidence'
"It's a vote of confidence with the work we've done for the last four years," said Phillips. "People want an experienced, competent city attorney."
In the race for two seats on the Redondo Beach City Elementary School District Board of Trustees (in which runoffs are not held), incumbent Rebecca Sargent easily won reelection to a second four-year term with 42.2% of the vote. The other available post was captured by Howard M. Huizing, a retired principal. Unsuccessful candidates in the low-key election were Bart Swanson and John W. Miller.
Of 10 ballot propositions, several were perfunctory City Charter changes. The only issues that sparked much interest concerned the Daily Breeze newspaper and the exposure of female breasts.
In the former, voters firmly rejected a measure that would have permitted the City Council to reject the lowest bidder in deciding what publication will run the city's legal advertisements. Controversy erupted last year when the Easy Reader weekly--which has much lower circulation in the city than the Breeze--was awarded the contract by underbidding the Torrance-based daily.