MONROVIA — Paul Stuart wants to be mayor for two more years so he can head the city during a centennial celebration that begins in May and has the entire city proud and enthusiastic.
Unopposed in the last two elections--Monrovia is one of the few San Gabriel Valley cities in which the voters select the mayor--Stuart thinks he has "earned the right to be mayor" during the yearlong celebration.
But Mary Wilcox, who even Stuart admits has worked hard in planning centennial events, thinks Stuart has been mayor long enough and she wants the job for herself.
"He's been mayor for six years and I would like to have my turn. I have nothing personal with Stuart. I could do as well and maybe better," said Wilcox, who has served on the City Council for six years.
But, counters Stuart, "now, when morale is so great, she is creating disharmony among people who like us both. I don't think this should be a popularity contest."
In Monrovia, the mayor, who is elected to a two-year term, also serves on the five-member City Council and has the power to appoint all city commissioners with the approval of the City Council.
The lively fight for the mayor's seat has overshadowed a separate race for two seats on the City Council in which the incumbents face three challengers.
In 1984, only 15% of Monrovia's 13,143 registered voters turned out on Election Day. But most candidates for the City Council think the turnout will be higher on April 8 because of interest in the mayoral race.
None of the council candidates has endorsed either of the mayoral candidates. Instead, they are concentrating on their own races for four-year terms.
Incumbents Robert Bartlett and John Nobrega are being opposed by Joe Garcia, Patrick Hauk and Ed Zoolalian.
Parking Is an Issue
The only issue that has surfaced in the council race is a new ordinance restricting overnight parking on city streets that has incensed some residents. A recent City Council meeting was packed with protesters, upset because they can no longer use their garages for other purposes and because they now have to go to the police station for temporary permits to park overnight on the street.
The ordinance, which has not yet been enforced, was enacted after a three-month voluntary program failed to clear streets so sweeping could be accomplished more efficiently.
Stuart was elected to his first two-year term as mayor in 1980, when he defeated the only other person to have opposed him for the office. "There are still projects I want to finish, including cleaning up our blighted areas and providing more senior-citizen and low-income housing. And I have a sense of pride and it is our centennial year."
Stuart, 70, who is retired from the real estate business, has lived in Monrovia for 37 years. He had served as a councilmen for four years before his election as mayor in 1980.
'A Full-Time Job'
"I have the luxury of being able to give Monrovia my full time," he said. "I have made this a full-time job. I am at City Hall every day."
Stuart said that during the years he has been active in city government Monrovia has upgraded itself through redevelopment, and he cited his background in real estate as one factor that played a role in that improvement.
"My opponent does not have that kind of background. She is a hard worker and easy to get along with, but her enthusiasm is limited to a few organizations in the community.
"Mary has worked hard in some areas in our community, especially on the Centennial Committee, but she still has a way to go to consider the total community."
Stuart also said that if Wilcox wins, the city will have to appoint someone to serve the remainder of her term, or hold a special election that will cost between $12,000 and $15,000.
Assured of Council Seat
If Stuart is reelected Wilcox, who is in the middle of her second four-year term on the council, will remain on the council.
Wilcox, 62, has lived in the city for 40 years and works part-time as a manager of the Sizzler restaurant here.
She is running against Stuart, she says, "because I am an active person and I feel the mayor should be progressive.
"I am not running against Stuart because he is doing a bad job but I would be more aggressive in creating issues instead of reacting to them.
"The people programs are lacking. Youngsters need more help in drug prevention and we need more housing for seniors."
Wilcox said she is running this year not because she has a safe seat but because she wants to be mayor during the centennial and feels she has the background and backing to take on the position of mayor now.
Allegiance of Seniors
Both candidates claim the allegiance of senior citizens, who make up 45% of the city's population.
In the council race, the two incumbents disagree about the importance of the parking issue. Both voted to approve the ordinance.