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107 Seek Southeast Council Posts Tuesday : Ballot Box Showdown Looms in 17 Cities

April 03, 1986|STEVEN R. CHURM | Times Staff Writer

With city council elections only five days away, residents across the Southeast area are being bombarded with last-minute mailers and get-out-the-vote phone calls as 107 candidates in 17 cities scramble for support.

Campaign spending in Norwalk and Cerritos continues on a record pace with incumbents and challengers alike pumping thousands of dollars into hotly contested races.

At least three candidates in Norwalk and one in Cerritos have raised more than $20,000. In tiny Commerce, the mayor has already raised and spent more than $20,000--nearly twice the amount spent by any of the other four candidates.

Trash, not money, has become a burning issue in Bell in the campaign's final days. A proposed hazardous-waste incineration plant in nearby Vernon prompted three of the seven Bell council candidates to send flyers to residents warning of potential health threats from the plant. Others in the race, however, have charged the three candidates with using scare tactics to win votes Tuesday.

And in Paramount the mayor is asking for votes as an expression of support for the council's year-old decision to tax the city's popular swap meet. The operators of the swap meet have been active in the campaign against the mayor, Charles R. Weldon.

Few of the races from Whittier to Hawaiian Gardens have had the intensity of Norwalk's.

IN NORWALK, spending by candidates in the election underscores the fact that the race has been the costliest and most bitterly fought in the city's 29-year history. The presence of two former Norwalk officials in the race--William H. Kraus, 47, former city administrator, and Grace Napolitano, 48, a former member of the city's International Friendship Commission--has triggered the record spending. Kraus and Napolitano were forced from city positions while Marcial (Rod) Rodriguez, Cecil N. Green and Lou Banas, all of whom are seeking reelection, were on the council.

Kraus and Napolitano deny they are seeking political revenge. But Banas admitted that without the two ousted city officials in the race, "the incumbents would walk in with relative ease."

Instead, the incumbents have been pushed into an expensive and accusation-filled campaign in the city of 85,232, where no council member has lost a bid for reelection since 1958.

The latest campaign finance reports on file say that, as of March 22, Green, 61, had received $38,023 in cash contributions, nearly four times as much as the previous record for campaign contributions set in 1982. It is also more than any other candidate in the Southeast area has received in the 1986 election campaign. Green, who is seeking a fourth term, had spent $17,840 as of March 22.

While Green has been the top fund-raiser, Mayor Rodriguez, 53, has spent more than any of the other eight candidates in the race. Records show he had raised $30,632 and spent $22,684--more than double the previous record of $9,056 in 1982. Between Feb. 23 and March 22, the mayor raised $13,958 and spent $10,437.

Both Rodriguez and Banas are seeking second terms.

As of March 22, Napolitano had raised $22,591 and spent $19,105, while Kraus had raised $2,824 and spent $2,143. Meanwhile, Banas, 39, had received $16,352 and spent $8,539. The only other candidates who had raised or spent more than $500 were Robert A. Espinosa, 32, and Guy W. Churchouse, 39. Espinosa had raised $6,881 and spent $4,463, while Churchouse had raised $1,190 and spent $550.

Other candidates in the race are Louis C. Krebs Jr., 41, and William Brady, 48.

NEXT DOOR IN CERRITOS, where the campaign has focused on slowing growth, a crowded field of 15 candidates has also pushed spending to record levels, with Councilman Alex J. Beanum, 50, leading the way.

Challengers to Beanum and incumbents Diana Needham and Barry Rabbitt are pitching a common theme of change in City Hall. They contend that the council has lost touch with its 55,000 residents and the needs of the city--street repairs, more soccer fields and rising crime.

The incumbents are meeting the challenge with money and a campaign that says their stewardship of the booming growth around Los Cerritos Mall and Cerritos Auto Square has made the city one of the state's wealthiest.

City records show that, as of March 22, Beanum, a two-term councilman, had raised $24,100 and spent $21,744, including $9,412 on printing and mailing between Feb. 23 and March 22.

Needham, 39, who is mayor and, like Beanum, is seeking a third term, had raised $14,604 and spent $12,951. Rabbitt, 48, who is after an unprecedented fifth term, had raised $7,649 as of March 22, almost all of it in the past month. About $2,400 of the contributions came from real estate and development interests. So far he has spent $3,457.

Among the challengers, Ravinder Mehta, 26, Ann B. Joynt, 46, and Alan Ulrich, 36, are the biggest spenders.

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