LONG BEACH — During the April 8 primary election to select five council members in this city, at least one first will be established.
In the District 5, Mayor Ernie Kell is unopposed, marking the first time since the city adopted its current form of government in 1921 that a council member has been returned to office without a single challenger.
Kell--who was first elected to the council in 1975 and was appointed mayor by his colleagues in 1984 for a two-year term--was not the only city official to draw no opposition. Others were City Prosecutor John Vander Lans, City Auditor Robert Fronke and City Atty. John Calhoun.
The state's election code allows the City Council to forgo races if a single candidate is running. Because of that, the council on Feb. 18 will decide whether to appoint Kell and the three other unopposed candidates to their posts without the formality of an election, a move that would save the city $103,000 in election expenses.
Although Kell's name may not appear on the ballot, the mayor could be a force in the council elections. He came into 1986 with more than $18,000 in campaign funds. With no election of his own to finance, Kell could give some of the money to other candidates.
In fact, in October, Kell contributed $750 to Councilman Warren Harwood and $190 to Councilwoman Eunice Sato. And in past election years, he has made personal contributions to Harwood and other council candidates.
Nonetheless, Kell said in an interview this week that he "hasn't given much thought" to further contributions to his political allies.
"I haven't ruled it out," he said, "but I also haven't given it a lot of thought."
Here is how the other four council races shaped up this week:
District 1-- A pack of 14 candidates will vie to fill the seat of vacating Councilman Marc Wilder.
The candidates include Evan Anderson Braude, 38, an attorney and the stepson of Rep. Glenn M. Anderson (D-Harbor City). Also seeking the post are Wilder's legislative assistant, Joy Melton, 42; Ron Batson, 46, an attorney, and Jennifer Ann Oropeza, 28, a former California State University, Long Beach, student body president and current aide to Assemblyman Charles M. Calderon (D-Alhambra).
Also running in District 1 are John Brogdon, 57, a supervising appraiser for the Los Angeles County assessor's office; Thomas (Ski) Demski, 56, owner of a bumper sticker business who is best known for his collection of gigantic American flags; Roosevelt (Rose) Hobbs, 45, a shipping and receiving supervisor for Community Rehabilitation Industries and an unsuccessful candidate in 1982; Mary Alice Romero, 49, a California probate referee; and Daniel Rosenberg, 56, an urban social anthropologist; and Allen Taylor, 45, a retired Navy officer and unsuccessful candidate for the seat in 1982.
Rounding out the field are Frank B. Hudzik, 69, a retired teacher; O. B. Powell, 62, who describes himself as an unofficial goodwill ambassador; Paul W. Diefenbach Sr., 73, a retired transportation agent; and Donald W. Phillips, 60, former District 1 councilman who was defeated by Wilder in 1982.
According to finance disclosure forms, Braude had raised the most money so far in District 1, with a campaign fund of more than $10,000 as of Jan. 1. Melton had raised $3,600, while Oropeza garnered $3,000 and Batson about $2,000.
District 3--Councilwoman Jan Hall will once again be challenged by Jim Serles, a dental surgeon who ran against her in a bitterly fought election battle in 1982.
According to disclosure forms, Hall, 43, had raised $29,000, while Serles, 45, had raised $28,000 for this campaign. The two other contenders are E. W. (Bud) Huber Jr., 41, a Hughes Aircraft telecommunications manager, and Louis C. Mirabile, 71, owner of a downtown automobile dealership.
District 7--Sato, seeking a fourth term, is being challenged by William H. Burford, an attorney and unsuccessful 1982 council candidate, and Ray Grabinski, a Bixby Knolls delicatessen owner who has been walking the district on nearly a daily basis for the past nine months to meet voters.
Sato, 64, had opened a wide fund-raising lead over her opponents, raising more than $25,000. Grabinski, 42, had about $800, and Burford, 43, did not report any contributions.
District 9--Harwood, 46, who reported he had nearly $13,000 in his campaign fund, drew four opponents. Jay Cain, 45, a key-punch operator who led an unsuccessful attempt in 1984 to recall Harwood, is the only challenger to report any campaign income--$385. Others District 9 candidates are Ralph R. Howe, 46, a retired Fire Department captain; Carlos M. Barraza, 59, an insurance representative and an unsuccessful candidate in 1982; and Johnny M. (Skip) Williams, 42, a staff assistant at Hughes Junior High School.
A candidate must win more than 50% of the vote in the primary to win a council seat. If no candidate gets more than half of the votes, then the top two vote-getters square off on June 3.