Only seven challengers have filed to run against three City Council incumbents in West Hollywood's April election, prompting all of the candidates to say that they will benefit from the small field.
"It's a lot easier to get your points across to voters when there's a small group of people running," said Mayor John Heilman, who is seeking reelection along with incumbent council members Helen Albert and Stephen Schulte. "When we had 40 candidates running (in 1984), it was hard to separate yourself from everyone else. This race will be much more manageable."
Several challengers agreed. "I think this helps all of us," said Mark Werksman, a 26-year-old attorney who did not run two years ago. "People will be able to examine our records and what we say more easily than they did last time. We won't get lost in the shuffle."
The seven challengers include two candidates who ran and lost in 1984. They are Ron Stone, 38, a management consultant who founded the city's incorporation movement, and Ruth Williams, 47, a business management consultant who serves as one of the city's seven rent stabilization commissioners.
In position papers filed with the city, Stone said he would make zoning and planning his top priority. Williams, a Neighborhood Watch supporter, stressed improving West Hollywood's schools and finding new recreation areas for the city's few children.
Two of the challengers, Werksman and Tom Larkin, 46, a real estate agent, have been highly visible in recent weeks. Werksman has been conducting straw polls across the city and Larkin has placed campaign advertisements in two local newspapers. Werksman has stressed making local government accountable to taxpayers, while Larkin has talked about encouraging business growth and developing a senior citizen housing program.
The remaining challengers are Alan R. Mulquinn, 39, a computer software consultant who said he would stress dissatisfaction with the way the council has run the city; Stephen D. Michael, 29, an auto salesman, who said had imposed a $10,000-limit on his campaign spending, and Jeffrey Wayne Cole, 27, an actor, who said he wanted to slow West Hollywood's growth.
Cole admitted that his acting career might pose a campaign issue in itself. Until two years ago, Cole said, he acted in homosexually oriented adult films, using the name of "Buster." Cole at first said the films were only R-rated, but then added, "Maybe some of them were X-rated. Anyway, I'm not making them any more."
Incumbents and challengers said they were surprised that Bernard (Bud) Siegel, who ran strongly in 1984 but was defeated, did not file last week. Siegel, still in the red from the 1984 race, had said he did not want to incur any more debt.
Last week, Schulte held a fund-raising dinner at the Beverly Hills hotel to clear up his 1984 campaign debts. David Bohnett, Schulte's campaign treasurer, said Schulte not only raised enough money to cover $2,600 in debts but will have at least $25,000 left over to use in the April election.
Schulte is waiting, however, to hear whether he will be endorsed by the Coalition for Economic Survival, a politically well-organized tenant rights group that is already backing Heilman and Albert. Several other candidates, including Ron Stone, have also asked for the group's endorsement.
A second political group, West Hollywood for Good Government, will begin interviewing candidates for endorsement later this week.