Voters in Hollywood and the neighboring hillside communities in Los Angeles' 13th Council District go to the polls Tuesday in a primary that pits incumbent Peggy Stevenson against five challengers who are trying to force her into a runoff election.
Strongly entrenched incumbents Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents Westwood, Beverly-Fairfax and much of West Los Angeles in the 5th Council District, and Marvin Braude, who represents Pacific Palisades and the rest of the far Westside's 11th District, are also up for reelection but face no opposition.
Stevenson's incumbency alone was not enough to dissuade challengers in the 13th District, where she is trying to convince constituents that her accomplishments in office overshadow her rivals' accusations that Hollywood remains a crime-ridden economic trouble spot and that hillside communities are threatened by developers.
Stevenson, 60, who has held her council seat for 10 years since the death of her councilman husband, Robert, has twice endured election challenges, the most recent in 1981 when she narrowly defeated Michael Woo, who is running again this year.
Forced into a runoff with Woo in the 1981 primary, Stevenson has devoted more time to campaigning this year, trying to shore up already strong support among elderly residents and hillside homeowners.
While accumulating more than $300,000 in campaign funds, she has emphasized her role in construction of several centers for the elderly and in efforts to reduce crime. She also takes credit for what she claims is the revitalization of Hollywood, saying she helped the area "turn the corner."
The greatest threat to her is again expected to come from Woo, 33, an aide to state Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles). Woo has raised more than $200,000 and is trying to cut into Stevenson's support among affluent hillside voters, especially in Los Feliz and several northern areas that were brought into the 13th District by reapportionment.
As in 1981, when he captured 42% of the vote to Stevenson's 43%, Woo has attacked her record, claiming she is allied with developers, has done little to pump life into ailing Hollywood and made little progress in stemming crime.
Hoping for Runoff
Woo is hoping that he and the four other contenders will amass enough votes to keep Stevenson from winning a majority of the vote. If she fails, Stevenson will be forced into a runoff with the second-place finisher.
Woo's main challenger for that spot is Michael Linfield, 34, a mathematics teacher with credentials as an activist on behalf of rent control, farm workers' rights and the fight against malathion spraying in Echo Park. Also criticizing Stevenson for ties to developers, Linfield has taken a strong rent-control stance and says he wants to aid the district's large immigrant community.
Backed by volunteers from the pro-rent control Coalition for Economic Survival and the environmentalist League of Conservation Voters, Linfield has earned several liberal endorsements that went to Woo in 1981 and has mounted a strong grass-roots campaign.
Another challenger, Arland (Buzz) Johnson, 49, a restaurant owner and Hollywood civic activist, has some support among moderates and conservatives. Raising nearly $75,000, Johnson has decried Hollywood's woes and promoted his role in anti-crime efforts and in securing a new street cleaner.
Kayser Fought Apartment
Bennett Kayser, 38, a health company systems manager and community activist in the Silver Lake area, has concentrated on development issues, claiming that his efforts to defeat a proposed 222-unit apartment complex there forced Stevenson to back away from supporting the project.
The fifth challenger, James Duree, 33, has promoted the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche, an ultra-rightist who has run for President, and has attacked the International Monetary Fund.