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5th to Represent District in 6 Years : Bradbury Council Names Newcomer

July 20, 1986|SUE AVERY | Times Staff Writer

BRADBURY — Audrey Hon is non-controversial and willing to serve, just the qualities the City Council was seeking when it appointed her as the fifth person in the last six years to represent District 2.

"Several people could have been chosen but they were controversial, and she will be a good appointment," said Melvin Larson, who represented the 176 residents of the district from 1972 to 1980. "I hope stability will be built back into the system."

Hon's immediate predecessor, Robert B. Allen, resigned last month after 18 months in office because he moved from the city. A previous councilman was removed from office by his colleagues when he missed a council meeting and another resigned just one week before she was ousted in a recall election.

Checked on Acceptability

"Maybe we are so small that it is like a family with the squabbles and bickering," Larson said.

Larson, president of a homeowner's association, was asked by the council to recommend candidates for the seat before Hon was appointed on July 12.

"I checked to make sure Mrs. Hon was acceptable to the district," he said.

Hon, an 18-year resident, said it is unlikely that she will run for election when her term expires in 1988. She said she never has been involved in politics but has served as the city's representative on a six-city mental health agency.

'Best for the District'

"I said I would take the position if no one else was terribly interested," said Hon, a housewife. "I plan to work hard and do whatever is best for the district. I'm looking forward to it now, but I don't know about the future."

Bradbury, a bucolic community hidden in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, is most often described as a city that has more horses than people. Many of its 880 residents live here because of its privacy and isolation even though it is only 23 miles from Los Angeles.

The 2-square-mile city has 3 miles of public streets and 10 miles of private roads. Two of the council districts, including District 2, are gated, with guards preventing unauthorized entrance. Zoning requirements in District 2 require that each parcel be at least two acres.

Mayor John Richards, who led the search for a new council member, said he expects Hon to serve with distinction.

Broad Base of Support

"Other people were considered but there was a broad base for her," he said.

He also made it clear that Allen, the councilman she is replacing, was never part of any controversy. Allen, who was appointed in January, 1985, has moved from the city and resigned on June 16.

"Bob Allen is a splendid guy who has worked diligently and made important contributions," Richards said. "By happenstance he moved."

District 2's councilmanic turnover began in 1980 when Mary Stratton defeated Larson by one vote, 28-27.

Stratton was in office less than a year when 56 of the 101 registered voters in the district signed a recall petition charging that she was ineffective and abusive to city staff and residents.

Her four fellow councilmen charged her with disruptive antics, saying she used foul language and created unwarranted turmoil at council meetings and at City Hall.

She denied the accusations but resigned one week before the special election. However, it was too late to cancel the election, in which residents voted 49 to 10 to oust her.

Removed From Office

Charles Vallas, who helped distribute the recall petitions, was appointed by the council to replace Stratton and won reelection in 1984.

However, Vallas was removed from office in December, 1984, by his colleagues, who cited a state law saying that if a councilman is absent without permission from all regular city council meetings during a 60-day period, his office becomes vacant.

'Had No Option'

"We had no option but to remove him because we couldn't contact him and he didn't contact us," Richards said. Vallas later said that he went on a lengthy vacation.

Vallas returned to Bradbury in January, 1985, charging that he was ousted for political reasons. By that time, he had been replaced by Allen.

Bradbury was incorporated in 1957 after Azusa expressed interest in annexing the area. Councilmanic districts were drawn to give equal voice to extremely wealthy and middle-income residents. Most of the lower-priced homes are in the southeast corner of the city.

Despite the problems in District 2, Richards said it would be a mistake to change the councilmanic district system.

"The areas are disparate with the spread in kinds of properties enormous," he said, "so at-large elections would introduce sectionalism into the operation.

"There would be a push for people in one area to take over the whole place," Richards said. "The current system works well because there is a reasonable appreciation of the concerns of people in other districts."

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