COMPTON — Walter Tucker overwhelmed old friend and City Council colleague Maxcy Filer to win a second term as mayor Tuesday, but incumbents fell short of the required majority in two bitterly contested council races and face a June 4 runoff election.
Tucker, a 60-year-old dentist, took 79.4% of the vote in the four-man mayoral contest to gain what he saw as a strong mandate for the economic redevelopment and crime-fighting polices of the current City Council.
"I see it as a vote of confidence in progress," said Tucker, an ordained minister who had expected a stiff challenge from Filer, a maverick councilman who has opposed numerous redevelopment projects.
If it was a mandate, however, it did not embrace incumbent councilmen Floyd James and Robert Adams, who also campaigned as architects of this city's reconstruction efforts.
Patricia Moore, 36, a part-time aide to Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton), almost won the tight and expensive District 2 race outright when she forced James into a general election showdown. Moore won 48.9% of the vote to James' 43.3%.
And, in District 3, Compton Community College Trustee Emily Hart-Holifield, an admittedly cocky challenger who also received Dymally backing, led throughout a long evening of vote counting and finally received 41.8% of the vote to Adams' 40.2% in a six-person race.
In the other municipal contests, City Attorney Wesley Fenderson Jr. easily won reelection, while City Clerk Charles Davis and City Treasurer Wesley Sanders Jr. were each given a fourth four-year term by large margins.
In all, 8,621 of 36,528 registered voters, or 23.6%, cast ballots for 19 candidates Tuesday--a far better primary turnout than the 14.9% in 1983, but down from 29% when the races on this week's ballot were last contested in 1981.
Council seats held by Jane Robbins and Filer are not up for reelection until 1987, so Filer will retain his council seat.
Indicative of Support
The Tucker victory demonstrated again the extraordinary support he has received for two decades from Compton voters. A city resident since 1957, he was a school board trustee and councilman before defeating incumbent Mayor Lionel Cade with 61% of the vote in 1981.
Still, Tucker was surprised by the strength of his win over Filer, a councilman since 1976 and something of a local character because of his outspoken style and city boosterism that has earned him the nickname "Mr. Compton."
"People had been telling me this was going to happen, but I didn't know," said Tucker as votes were counted late Tuesday evening in a City Council chamber packed with interested citizens.
"I didn't see any of his campaign literature (around town), and I said, 'Gee, did he walk the whole town?' " said the mayor, who said he spent about $25,000 on the campaign. Filer said he spent about $3,000.
Reached at what was to have been a victory party, Filer seemed stunned by the magnitude of his loss. "I thought I would win," said Filer, who got just 12.8% of the vote. "I don't know what happened. And I don't have the slightest idea what this means."
Tucker said, however, that voters clearly "like what they see is happening (with redevelopment). It's an overwhelming mandate. But it takes a whole council team to make it happen."
But he stopped short of endorsing fellow councilmen Adams and James, who were reassessing their new positions as campaign underdogs early Wednesday. "I'm remaining neutral," said Tucker.
Adams and James each called his runoff opponent a "Dymally candidate," alluding to the support the veteran congressman has given to Moore and Hart-Holifield.
Adams declined to mention Hart-Holifield's name in an interview. "I'm running against the congressman, not the candidate," he said, "and we haven't revealed a lot of things about him that we're going to deal with now. I'm not going to let Dymally control Compton politics. It's bossism, and I don't want people's children to have to go to him to run for an office."
Hart-Holifield, a college trustee for nine years, dismissed Dymally's assistance as an issue. The congressman's endorsement probably helped her in the primary and she welcomes it, though she received no monetary contributions from him, Hart-Holifield said. The real issues are the character of Robert Adams, redevelopment, crime, transportation for the elderly and youth recreation, she said.
Adams pleaded guilty last year to disturbing the peace after being charged with assaulting a woman at a city social function, she noted.
'Youth Need a Symbol'
"Now that it's just between the two of us, the citizens can see just who they're voting for," said Hart-Holifield, a special education teacher. "The issues are credibility and integrity. I feel the youth of this community need a symbol they can look up to."