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An Insult to the Eastside

September 25, 1985

Recent news reports indicate that the Los Angeles City Council is being pressured to hand-pick a successor to 14th District Councilman Arthur K. Snyder when he resigns from office. That would be an insult to the Eastside community that Snyder represents.

The campaign to appoint a successor to Snyder, rather than hold a special election in his district, is being orchestrated by supporters of California Assemblyman Richard Alatorre (D-Los Angeles). Alatorre made public his desire to replace Snyder shortly after the Eastside councilman earlier this year announced his vague plan to resign. Alatorre also began using his well-established political connections to win Snyder's seat by appointment, which is an option under the City Charter, rather than in a special election.

Alatorre's push for an appointment went nowhere initially because the council has not appointed a member for more than 19 years. The five most recent vacancies were all filled by special elections. But Alatorre's backroom campaign began to gather steam last week when Snyder started to lobby for the appointment of Alatorre.

Supporters of Alatorre on the council insist that he is better known and better financed than any other announced candidate for Snyder's seat, and thus would inevitably win a special election, so the city should save itself the expense of holding one. Alatorre also argues that he is the best-qualified candidate for the council because he has represented roughly the same area in the Legislature for 12 years.

All that may be so. But no one has ever tried to put a price tag on democracy, and the City Council should not start now. Alatorre may indeed be an effective representative in Sacramento for the district, but the choice of a council member should be made by the people who live there--not by 14 politicians from other areas of the city.

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