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Latino Group Demands an Election to Fill Snyder Seat

September 25, 1985|JANET CLAYTON | Times Staff Writer

A Latino political organization Tuesday accused city officials of denying Latinos the right to elect a council representative by trying to "arrange" the appointment of Assemblyman Richard Alatorre to the Los Angeles City Council.

Alatorre, an Eastside Democrat, is one of several aspirants to the seat of Councilman Arthur K. Snyder, who is expected to resign within the next two weeks.

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall, Virginia Reade, regional director of the Mexican-American Political Assn. (MAPA), said Alatorre backers have been trying to line up enough votes to have him appointed to the job, which she said would "undermine" the right to vote.

"We consider any support for an appointment an act against the Mexican-American community's fundamental right to determine its own destiny and choose its own representatives," said Reade, who was flanked by pickets carrying signs that read, "No back-room deals" and, "We seek election, not selection."

Some signs were held by supporters of Steve Rodriguez, another potential candidate to replace Snyder and the candidate who was endorsed by MAPA in the 1983 election.

Since January, when Snyder announced his intention to resign as councilman of the largely Latino 14th District, Alatorre has sought Snyder's endorsement and help. Recently some City Council members said Snyder has asked them to appoint Alatorre as his successor. Snyder has made no comment.

Raul Ruiz, a MAPA member and once a candidate who ran against Alatorre for the state Assembly, said a council appointment of Alatorre would be "blatant back-room politics" and "border on scandal."

Ruiz noted that Alatorre and his supporters have suggested that Snyder wants to have "a decent relationship with the incoming councilman." Snyder expects to become a lobbyist and would benefit from Alatorre's support on the council, Ruiz said.

May Lack Votes

Although most council members say that Alatorre probably does not yet have the eight votes needed to get him appointed, they say he is very close. Snyder himself will not participate in the vote on whether to hold a special election or to appoint a successor because under the City Charter the council cannot take up the matter until Snyder vacates his office.

In the meantime, Alatorre's supporters are working hard to secure an appointment, which would put Alatorre in office for the rest of Snyder's term, which ends in 1987.

Two council members, who asked not to be identified, said that Alatorre supporters are warning that an election could result in the election of another Anglo--Police Chief Daryl F. Gates--to represent the largely Latino district.

But Gates, a longtime resident of the 14th District, ruled out any possibility that he will run for the Eastside office.

Inclined Toward Election

"I will not be a candidate," he said. "I've been asked by many, many people, and I could win easily, hands down. But I'd be crazy. If I'm going to do something in politics it's going to be a notch or two higher than that." But Gates added, "I don't believe that seat ought to be typed as an Hispanic seat."

Although several council members say they are inclined to favor a special election, others, including Councilmen John Ferraro, Hal Bernson and Michael Woo, say they have not made up their minds.

Woo, who said he is "officially undecided," said he "appreciates the value of the election, I just went through one," but added that "there are cost considerations too, to the city, for holding a special election."

Another council member said that some on the council, sympathetic to the hundreds of thousands of dollars Alatorre would have to raise to win the election, are considering the appointment because Alatorre has been repeatedly elected in his Assembly district that covers about 80% of the 14th District.

Ferraro was the last council member to be appointed to office, in 1966.

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