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Variety Is the Spice of Hawthorne Politics

November 03, 1985|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

HAWTHORNE — Two incumbents face four opponents in a hard-fought City Council race in which the issues include intense residential development, crime, traffic and parking.

In the mayoral contest, which is separate from the council race, Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Betty J. Ainsworth faces John B. Bernadou. The mayoral race was opened up when incumbent Guy Hocker, the first elected mayor of Hawthorne, decided not to run for reelection.

In the election for city clerk, incumbent Patrick E. Keller faces Ann M. Werhan, a long-time Hawthorne community figure who has accused Keller of shirking his duties as clerk, a charge he disputes.

City Treasurer Howard Wohlner is running unopposed in his reelection bid.

The various campaigns are taking place in a 5.7-square-mile municipality that straddles Hawthorne Boulevard north of Lawndale and south of Inglewood. It has a population close to 60,000, a median household income of $21,777 and 22,351 registered voters. In the last municipal election, 25% of those voters turned out. Construction in the city this year--$58.5 million through August--is more than double the 1984 rate and crime is down 4.5% from last year, according to city officials.

Unorthodox Campaign

Veteran Ainsworth is expected to easily defeat Bernadou, who lists no contributions and is running an unorthodox campaign. His platform includes a prediction that the "Great Los Angeles Earthquake" will occur precisely at 3:47 p.m. on April 19, 1987, with an intensity of 8.4 on the Richter scale.

"If I am wrong, not much will be lost, but if this prediction moves people to prepare, I don't mind the laughter," Bernadou said.

Hawthorne's main arena for political combat this year is the race for the two council seats.

Two of the six candidates, challengers Richard L. Mansfield and Ginny McGinnis Lambert, have been walking door-to-door for weeks, with Mansfield saying he hopes to visit all who voted in the last municipal election. Ray Pearcy, another challenger, sent out a full-color brochure and intends to send out another mailer. Incumbents David York and Charles Bookhammer are spending money for mailers and yard signs. York said he has had 6 to 10 people walking neighborhoods for him every weekend for weeks.

Kathy Corsiglia, 38, a housewife, said she became a candidate because she was upset that city officials had not prevented a developer from building in the middle of a block where she owns a house.

'Not Going to Buy Votes'

"I don't think I have a chance in hell" of winning, she said. "I am not spending the money. I am not going to buy votes. If people want to vote for me, I want them to vote for me because I am an average person pushed around by the developers."

Incumbent Bookhammer, 37, who owns an insurance agency, has said he supported the Police Department as a councilman and, in a reference to the tumultuous period a few years ago when City Council meetings were known as the "Monday night fights," added that he had contributed stability to the City Council in his 2 1/2-year tenure.

Bookhammer and York were elected in February, 1983, to unexpired terms after a recall election removed three council members. Bookhammer lost a race for a full term two years ago, but was appointed by the council to fill out Hocker's term after Hocker was elected mayor.

In Need of Harmony

York, 48, operations manager of Centre Properties Ltd., which manages commercial and industrial property, said he was elected to the council at a time when city government, after a tumultuous period, was in need of harmony. He said he supports planned commercial development to generate enough additional tax revenue to make the utility tax unnecessary.

York said a cooperative effort involving residents, city staff and developers is needed to work out problems in areas, such as Moneta Gardens, that are undergoing a lot of construction.

Lambert, 53, an administrative assistant at Northrop Corp. and long a critic of City Hall, said the incumbents lack fresh ideas and that the council needs her energy. She added that she opposes the 3.5% municipal utility tax, instituted by the council in 1984 to pay for additional police. In a campaign brochure, she charged that crime in the city remains high despite efforts to curb it. Bookhammer criticized Lambert for the brochure saying, "It is a very effective bulletin, but it is really pulling the wool over the voters' eyes. Crime is coming down and we (the council) are doing what we can."

Mansfield, 51, an operations manager with AT&T, said his eight years of experience as a councilman in Inglewood before he moved to Hawthorne in 1978 would help the city. He also said the city suffers from overdevelopment.

"People have no place to park. Crime is up in every area. You have chaos out there in development," he said.

Opposes Utility Tax

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