A Culver City councilman's ties to fireworks magnate W. Patrick Moriarty, a dispute over schools and a civic center in Beverly Hills, and a turf battle between rival political factions in West Hollywood are the central themes in City Council elections in three Westside communities on Tuesday.
Voter turnout for municipal elections in Culver City, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood is expected to be moderate to low, officials said. But serious issues have been raised by candidates and campaign groups in each community.
The Culver City council race, usually a quiet affair, has sparked the most fireworks. Two of the city's five council members, Richard M. Alexander and A. Ronald Perkins, face a field of five challengers in the race.
One of them is attorney Andrew Weissman, who has attacked Perkins for his reported ties to Moriarty, the subject of a statewide political corruption investigation who was recently sentenced to seven years in prison.
In a four-page letter to the city's 15,000 voters, Weissman charged that Perkins failed to report ties to Moriarty on financial disclosure statements.
Perkins has denied the charges and last week filed a $10-million libel suit against Weissman.
Perkins' suit charges that Weissman's letter caused him to suffer ridicule and a loss of his reputation in the community. Weissman stood by his comments about Perkins, saying they warranted public discussion.
Weissman and other critics have also said Perkins violated conflict-of-interest codes when he supported Moriarty's plan to build a city housing project while the two were partners in another venture in the early 1980s. Perkins admitted business dealings with Moriarty, but denied any wrongdoing.
Two Years to Go
Three other Culver City councilmen have two years to go on their terms. Councilmen Richard Brundo, Paul A. Jacobs and Paul A. Netzel have endorsed Weissman and Alexander in the race. The other candidates are Fred Ellis, a retired contractor; Richard Nielsen, a deputy attorney general; Jozelle Smith, a newspaper columnist, and Lisa Tracy, a security supervisor.
Culver City residents also will elect a city clerk on Tuesday. The only candidate is incumbent Pauline C. Dolce.
The looming financial crisis in the Beverly Hills schools and expenditures on a multimillion-dollar civic center are central issues in that city's council race. The Beverly Hills Unified School District faces an estimated $1-million shortfall in the coming year. In addition, the council has drawn fire for its decision to fund a civic center that is expected to cost upwards of $80 million.
Six candidates are vying for two of the five council seats. Councilwoman Annabelle Heiferman is the only incumbent seeking reelection. Heiferman has stressed her work on the council's school liaison committee, which has located another $2 million in city funds for the schools on top of the $1 million that has already been allocated.
Attorney Robert K. Tanenbaum, one of three major challengers, has vociferously denounced the city's "massive" civic center expenditures. He maintained that the civic center complex, which includes a new police headquarters, will cost more than $100 million, and said some of the money would have been better spent beefing up the city's police force.
Maxwell Hillary Salter, a business executive who has accumulated nearly $70,000, is the most successful fund-raiser among the challengers. Salter said he supports greater cooperation between the council and the school board and increased school funding.
Rose Norton, who led the fight against medium-rise hotels in the city's business district, said residents are most concerned about schools and over-development. She said the quality of the city's schools, commercial fortunes and property values should all be considered as important aspects of the city's future.
The two other candidates in the race are M. Cynthia Rose, a former bank officer, and Eugene Quash, a securities trader. Neither has reported contributions or expenditures large enough to be filed with the city clerk.
In West Hollywood, two prominent political organizations that have endorsed different candidates engaged in a heated propaganda war as the campaign for three of the five city's five council seats entered its final days.
The Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenant activist organization, is working for the reelection of Mayor John Heilman and Councilwoman Helen Albert. The coalition has declined to back or oppose the third incumbent, Stephen Schulte. West Hollywood for Good Government, composed of businessmen and political moderates, supports Schulte, Ruth Williams and Tom Larkin.
The coalition, which has strong support among renters and senior citizens, has called the Good Government group a "front" for landlords. A coalition leader noted that none of the contributors to the group were identified as property owners, even though they constitute about half of its membership.