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Local Elections : Both Challengers Target the Mayor : Lakewood Incumbents Run on Fiscal Issues

March 20, 1986|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

LAKEWOOD — Though two of the Lakewood City Council members are seeking reelection April 8, both challengers are directing their campaigns at only one of the incumbents, Mayor Larry Van Nostran.

Both challengers--Roy E. Pepper, who is making his first bid for office, and Jack Adkins, who has run for the council and lost three times--want to replace Van Nostran, who has been on the council for 11 years.

Both Pepper, a retired investment counselor for a real estate firm and Adkins, 51, also a real estate and investment counselor, have praised eight-year Councilwoman Jacqueline Rynerson. They have made it clear that they are gunning for Van Nostran.

"I think Jackie Rynerson is a fine lady," said Pepper, who is active in senior citizens' affairs.

"I think Van Nostran has shown poor leadership. I haven't been satisfied with the job he has done over the years," Adkins said.

Van Nostran, who is seeking his fourth term on the five-member council, said it was unclear to him what his opponents were talking about.

'Not Like Jackie'

"I'm not like Jackie. She can be sweet and nice. My style is different. I might rub people the wrong way sometimes. I tell them what I think," Van Nostran said.

Van Nostran, 52, says no issues have emerged in the race.

"The biggest thing so far is that six of my eight-foot election signs have disappeared from around town," Van Nostran said.

Van Nostran said he did not know who was taking the signs and that he wasn't blaming his opponents.

On the other hand, Van Nostran said, he did not know how serious the challengers are, "but I'll be prepared. I always run scared." He said he he expected to raise an estimated $8,000. So far he has raised about $2,000, he said.

Van Nostran was first elected in 1975 in a special election to replace Mark Hannaford, who successfully ran for Congress.

Through good management, Van Nostran said, "Lakewood is one of the two . . . healthiest cities financially in Southern California." He said he ranked only Cerritos above Lakewood.

As an example of its financial health, Van Nostran said, the city has a budget of $20 million for 1985-86 and a reserve of $7 million.

(Cerritos has a budget of $29.7 million and a reserve of $7.5 million for the same period.)

'We Have the Money'

"We have been able to keep up with such things as street maintenance and tree trimming because we have the money and have managed it well," Van Nostran said.

Redevelopment was an issue when he first came on the council 11 years ago, Van Nostran said. "I survived two recall attempts (in 1975 and 1976) by opponents of redevelopment," said Van Nostran, who is a supporter of redevelopment.

The city's second-largest shopping center is now being refurbished with the aid of redevelopment funds and "the political turmoil is no longer there," Van Nostran said.

Dutch Village, which was built in 1952 and is approximately 25 acres, is under a $15-million redevelopment project by the Hopkins Development Co. of Newport Beach. It was deteriorating and was only contributing 2% in retail sales taxes to the city, Van Nostran said.

The city Redevelopment Agency contributed $1.75 million to the project for improvements to sewer and water lines, and for relocation assistance to tenants, he said.

The project will include the development of a Vons Pavilion "super store," a Marshall's clothing store and a Thrifty Drug & Discount Store. The project is expected to create 450 jobs and $22 million in annual retail sales, said Don Waldie, city public information officer.

Owns Auto Center

Construction is expected to start this summer and be completed by 1987.

Van Nostran owns Larry Vans Auto Center. The center, which sells used cars, trucks and vans, has offices in Long Beach and Bellflower. Van Nostran and his wife, Jean, have two sons and five grandchildren.

Rynerson, 64, who was first elected to the council in 1978, has a reputation for being a strong, civic-minded community booster of city projects and a non-controversial councilwoman.

Rynerson, who attended USC, said she is especially proud that she organized the Lakewood Beautiful program in 1980, which recognizes residents who "keep their homes well-groomed."

She said she was also proud of the $10-million renovation and construction project in the civic center, which was completed in February, 1985. The project included the remodeling of a sheriff's department substation and the construction of Sycamore Centre community center with funds from the Redevelopment Agency as well as some city, county, state and federal money.

The one key issue facing the city, Rynerson said, will be finding a way to cope with losses in federal funds. The city stands to lose an estimated $700,000 in revenue sharing money and community development block grant funds in the proposed federal budget, Rynerson said.

The funds, which include loans to low-income residents for home repairs and street improvements, have been gradually diminishing, Rynerson said.

'Scramble' for Funds

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