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Partisan Rivals Test Picus in Tightest Valley Council Race

April 07, 1985|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

Although Los Angeles City Councilmen Ernani Bernardi and Howard Finn are expected to easily win reelection Tuesday, their fellow Valley representative, Joy Picus, is facing the stiffest challenge of her political career.

Picus, seeking a third term as the representative from the West Valley's 3rd District, faces five challengers who hope to keep the incumbent below the 50%-plus-one vote required to avoid a June runoff against the second-place finisher.

Picus' opponents, employing an unusual strategy in a nonpartisan race, have campaigned on the theme that Picus, a registered Democrat, is too liberal for the district, which traditionally has elected Republicans in partisan races. The district takes in all or parts of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, west Van Nuys, Winnetka and Woodland Hills.

Nemo Stresses GOP Work

One of Picus' challengers, Jeanne Nemo, a GOP activist, has sent out a campaign mailer noting that she attended last year's Republican convention as a delegate for President Reagan, who won the district with 62% of the vote, while Picus was a convention delegate for Democrat Walter F. Mondale, who received 38%. Nemo also sent to voters a letter of support from Howard Jarvis, co-author of the 1978 tax-cutting Proposition 13, which was approved by 81% of the district's voters.

To counter this, a Picus mailer containing a letter of support from Maureen Reagan, the President's daughter, started arriving at Republican homes Saturday.

Anti-Police Stance Charged

Picus' opponents also have contended that she has undermined police protection by her attacks on Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, that she failed to help prevent school closures in the district, that she turned her back on her constituents when, for environmental reasons, she opposed construction of Olympic facilities in the Sepulveda Basin, and that she is interested only in pursuing her acknowledged ambition for higher political office.

However, the 54-year-old Picus, who won reelection against her only opponent in 1981 with 68% of the vote, is confident of winning again this time.

She has raised more campaign funds than her opponents combined and has avoided confrontations with them, agreeing to only one joint appearance with the other candidates.

Instead of responding to criticism from her challengers, Picus has campaigned on her record, which she has said includes establishing "over half a dozen new parks and a new senior-citizen multipurpose center" in the district.

Challengers' Credentials

Picus' challengers are:

Gil Eisner, 52, of Woodland Hills, a former Valley deputy to ex-county Supervisor Baxter Ward. Eisner now is an adviser to businesses on dealing with government, including helping developers obtain approval for projects. He ran in the 1977 council race won by Picus, finishing fifth among six candidates. A Democrat, he has a bachelor's degree in physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and a master's degree in public administration from USC.

Gary Klein, 38, of Winnetka, a former deputy specializing in zoning for West Valley Councilman Hal Bernson. He now works as a lobbyist for developers. It is his first attempt for public office. A conservative Democrat, he has a bachelor's degree in urban studies from California State University, Northridge.

Jon Lorenzen, 29, of Reseda, son of the late councilman, Donald Lorenzen. He works at the family's Reseda mortuary and also is a partner in a real estate brokerage firm. He ran unsuccessfully in 1978 for the West Los Angeles Resource Conservation District. A Republican, he attended USC but did not graduate.

Matt Lynch, 50, of Winnetka, a lawyer specializing in contracts. He has been endorsed by the Valley Young Republicans. He ran unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles Community College board in 1971, finishing third among 10 candidates. He has been chairman of the Valley Business and Professional Assn. and vice president of the United Chambers of Commerce, and was a founder of the Committee Investigating Valley Independent City/County, a group that sponsored an unsuccessful attempt to turn the Valley into a separate city and county. He has a bachelor's degree in engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His law degree is from American University in Washington, D.C.

Jeanne Nemo, 56, of Tarzana, a teacher with strong ties to the Republican Party. This is the first time she has run for political office. She has a bachelor's degree in history from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and a master's degree in school administration from California State University, Los Angeles. She served on the board of the Committee Investigating Valley Independent City/County.

In the northeast Valley's 1st District, Finn faces three little-known, underbudgeted challengers who have contended that the 67-year-old freshman lawmaker has supported too much development in rural areas.

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