A Bellflower city councilman, who is seeking reelection in April, has announced that he is also running for the Assembly seat being vacated by Speaker Pro Tem Frank Vicencia (D-Bellflower).
Ray O'Neal, who has been on the council since 1982, said he did not believe his running for the two offices would cause any problems. "My first obligation is to the council," O'Neal said, adding that his council experience would benefit him in Sacramento.
The municipal election, in which nine candidates are seeking three council seats, will be April 8. The Assembly primary will be June 3. If O'Neal were to win the council seat and then win the Democratic primary and the November general election in the Assembly race, the City Council would either call a special election to fill the vacancy or appoint a new member.
O'Neal joined a field of nine other Democrats, one Republican and one member of the Peace and Freedom Party who had filed intent-to-run papers by last week. The deadline was to have been Wednesday, but with Vicencia not seeking reelection the deadline was extended to this Monday. Those prospective candidates have until March 7 to return nomination papers to the county registrar-recorder's office with the signatures of at least 40 registered voters.
Vicencia, 54, who has represented the 54th Assembly District since 1975, announced last month that he would not seek another term.
Zeltner Lone Republican
The lone Republican seeking the seat is Lakewood City Councilman Paul E. Zeltner, a retired Sheriff's Department captain. Zeltner has served on the council since 1977.
The Peace and Freedom candidate is Vikki Murdock. She is from Lakewood.
In addition to O'Neal, Democrats are Larry Ward, a Bellflower Unified School District Board Of Education member; Thomas (Tom) Cochee of Bellflower; Willard H. Murray of Compton; Edward K. Waters, also of Compton; Dan Branstine, a former Lakewood city councilman; businesswoman Doris Davis, a former Compton mayor and city clerk, and Kent A. Spieller, an attorney, also of Bellflower. Two other Democrats, Marty Israel and Craig Freis, also took out papers but provided no other information, a spokeswoman for the county registrar-recorder said.
Vicencia said that he has received a number of calls seeking his support but so far he has "gone out of my way to stay out of it."
However, he said it was possible he would endorse someone later. He added that he was not sure whether the Democratic leadership in Sacramento would support a candidate in the primary.
Last month, Lonnie Sanders, an aide in the office of Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton), said Spieller had Dymally's "definite" support. But last week, Ken Orduna, Dymally's chief of staff, said in an interview that the congressman is "not backing anyone. We are taking a hands-off position and not endorsing anyone.
"There are so many Democrats running in the primary. We'll wait until there is a winner and support the Democrat who wins," Orduna said.
Spieller could not be reached for comment.
The 54th Assembly District covers the cities of Bellflower, Compton, Paramount, portions of Lakewood, Long Beach and some unincorporated county areas including eastern Compton and Willowbrook.
The district has more than 90,000 registered Democrats to more than 35,000 Republicans.