Assemblyman Charles Bader (R-Pomona) is unopposed in the Republican primary, but that hasn't stopped his potential Democratic challengers from taking a few potshots at him.
Harold A. Jackson Jr. and Bill A. Christopher, the Democratic candidates in the June 3 primary in the 65th Assembly District, contend that Bader has not done enough about problems with toxic waste disposal and clean-up. Of particular concern is the possibility that toxic wastes from the Stringfellow acid pits in Glen Avon will seep into the nearby Chino water basin, which supplies much of the area.
The district stretches from northeastern Pomona east to the high desert communities of Adelanto and Hesperia, and includes Alta Loma, Montclair, Ontario, Wrightwood, Phelan, Rancho Cucamonga and Chino.
"The issues certainly concern toxic waste and what the (Deukmejian) Administration and the incumbent have not done to clean up the toxic waste dumps," said Jackson, 55, a minister ordained by the United Church of Christ who serves as a chaplain with the California Youth Authority and lives in Pomona. Jackson is seeking his second shot at Bader, who defeated him by a 2-1 margin in the 1984 election.
Christopher, a 54-year-old former maintenance supervisor who lives in Hesperia, agreed, saying, "I don't think Bader is responsive" to the toxic waste issue."
Toxic Waste Committee
Bader, a member of the Assembly Toxic Waste Committee, rejects the criticism, noting that he sponsored a bill to standardize state and federal definitions of toxic waste and hazardous materials and has another bill pending that would provide state matching funds for businesses and schools involved in researching the application of biotechnology to decontamination of hazardous waste disposal sites.
"They are absolutely wrong as it relates to the toxic (waste) issue," said Bader, 46, a two-term incumbent.
Jackson said his previous campaign exposure gives him the edge over Christopher and maintains that he is more knowledgeable on the issues. "I do believe that everything is on my side as far as being the victor in the primary. I have the name recognition. The last two years I've been building up name recognition, preparing."
Christopher, who gave up his job as a maintenance supervisor at a waste water treatment plant to devote full time to campaigning, said he has 12 years of experience in the water and waste water field, is an elected member of the Mojave Water Agency and is a member of the California Water Pollution Control Assn.
Christopher said that whatever he lacks in campaign experience, he plans to make up in energy. "I'm attending every event I can possibly get to, chamber mixers, parades. I don't see him (Jackson) out and around."
Veteran observers of Democratic politics in the district say that Jackson appears to be the front-runner in the primary. Both candidates generally agree on most issues.
"This kind of primary is a hard thing to get a reading on," said George Morris, a former chairman of the Democratic Party Central Committee in San Bernardino County who knows both men. "Neither has spent much money. People vote on the name. Hal's probably better known by the inside party people."
Both Christopher and Jackson say they believe they can defeat Bader in November, but they are in the minority in that assessment. The district, which has 143,849 voters, is a GOP stronghold, with Republicans making up 46.3% of the registration, compared to 43.4% for the Democrats.
'Good Republican District'
"Anything above 38% is a good Republican district," said Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia).
"There is always hope (of a victory)," Morris said, "but it's not what you would call a high-priority district" for the Democrats.
Bader is regarded by his colleagues as a pragmatic conservative who maintains a low-key presence in the Legislature.
"He votes his district. He votes the way his constituents feel," said Assemblywoman Teresa P. Hughes (D-Los Angeles), who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, of which Bader is vice chairman.
"He's certainly more conservative than I am, but his district is," added Hughes, who represents portions of central Los Angeles.
Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Hawthorne), who often spars with Republican legislators, said he could not remember any tiffs with Bader, whom he called a "hail fellow well met."
Last year Bader won passage of a measure that provided $7 million to bail out a Los Angeles County program that was running out of money for homemaker services to the blind, elderly and disabled.
And he sometimes carries so-called district legislation aimed at helping something or someone in his district. For instance, Bader last year introduced a resolution urging the U.S. Commerce Department to grant federal funds to the Los Angeles County Fair Assn. for renovation and reconstruction at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. The measure is before the Assembly Agriculture Committee.
Bader has had an interest in revamping bilingual education programs. He is carrying legislation, currently before the Ways and Means Committee, to establish a pilot program to immerse non-English-speaking elementary school students in English during summer school. It would also immerse preschool children in a similar English program. The bill would set aside about $600,000 a year for three years.
Mark Gladstone of The Times' Sacramento bureau contributed to this story.