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Pros, Cons of Redevelopment at Issue in Compton Election

April 14, 1985|DARYL KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON — The direction of this city's economic redevelopment may be at stake Tuesday, when about 7,000 voters are expected to cast ballots in six municipal races, including two for City Council and one for mayor.

Mayor Walter Tucker and council incumbents Robert Adams Sr. and Floyd James have all emphasized their roles as architects of Compton's recovery, while most of their 10 challengers have insisted that the reconstruction effort is a sham that lines developers' pockets while touching the lives of too few city residents.

Voters also will be asked to take sides in two increasingly bitter council races.

James and Adams have charged Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton) with "bossism," alleging that the congressman opposes their candidacies because they would not become part of Dymally's "slate" of candidates for city offices.

The congressman as policy has endorsed only incumbents in local races. He said he withdrew his support this year because Adams allegedly broke a promise to support Dymally aide Patricia Moore and James "lied" by telling Dymally he intended to run for mayor, then said publicly he never intended to do so.

Charges Denied

Both Adams and James denied the charges.

Dymally acknowledged that he has helped raise about $17,000 for part-time aide Moore, who is running against James in District 2.

In District 3, Dymally has endorsed Compton Community College trustee Emily Hart-Holifield, who has reminded voters with an unsigned print advertisement that Adams pleaded guilty last year to disturbing the peace after being charged with assaulting a woman at a city social function.

To Adams' charge of "dirty politics," Hart-Holifield said, "It's not dirty politics. It's real politics. That's when you remind the people of what kind of person they have in office."

In a match-up that may be the election's most interesting, Tucker and Councilman Maxcy Filer, two of the city's most popular politicians and avowed friends, are politely running for mayor.

Construction of a $675-million trolley line through the city center was a potential major issue that never materialized, candidates said, because Tucker and Filer have both opposed it in its present form and because a City Council light-rail vote is scheduled for April 23, long before election winners take office July 1.

In all, 37,197 registered voters may choose Tuesday from 19 candidates, including two each for city attorney, clerk and treasurer. If a candidate fails to get a majority of the vote in a race, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June 4 runoff.

Voters from throughout the city may cast ballots in all six races, though council members must live in the districts they represent. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Council seats held by Jane Robbins and Filer are not up for election until 1987. Filer will retain his council seat if he loses to Tucker. If he wins, the council will appoint his replacement.

While high unemployment and street-corner drug trafficking have been hot campaign issues, the course of redevelopment was central to most council and mayoral debates.

Adams and James, both council members since 1977, and Tucker, a councilman before he defeated incumbent Mayor Lionel Cade in 1981, see the new construction as their doing. They point proudly to a $20-million shopping center, about 1,000 new dwell ings, a prosperous light-industry zone and the impending construction of a $30-million hotel and convention center.

The property-tax base in the redevelopment zones has increased fourfold since 1973, while sales taxes from the new businesses have brought the city hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue annually, city officials say.

Tucker, 60, cites redevelopment when he takes the strongest of his mild swipes at Filer, 54, a councilman since 1976.

"I like Maxcy; he's like an old shoe," said Tucker. "But I wouldn't like to see him in the position of mayor because of some of the negative votes he's made. I don't know what makes Maxcy tick, but when he wants to take the gavel out of my hands, I have to say compare the records. I try to be progressive."

Filer, who often finds himself the lone vote against redevelopment projects, said he is proud of his record. "Many times they've brought things to us with a rush, saying they must be done now, and I just can't do it that way. I must have all the evidence before me," he said.

Enforce Existing Laws

Compton can improve itself more by enforcing existing laws than by continually supporting multimillion-dollar projects that may not be needed, said Filer. But Tucker insisted that without the jobs created by the new projects, Filer's talk of code enforcement is "just hogwash."

Moore, Hart-Holifield and fellow council candidates James Hays Jr., Fred Cressel and Walter Goodin have all been sharply critical of redevelopment.

"The biggest issue is redevelopment," said Hart-Holifield, "because what the people of this community see is not really what we have gotten."

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