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LAPD Detective First in Scramble to Fill Finn's Seat

August 16, 1986|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles police detective on Friday became the first candidate to jump into what is expected to be a scramble to fill the northeast San Fernando Valley seat on the City Council left vacant by the death of Howard Finn.

"Yes, I am definitely going to run for that seat," Detective Elton (Skip) Michael said.

Michael, 47, ran against Finn in 1981 and 1985. Last year, he finished second in a field of four candidates, garnering 18% of the vote. Finn collected 69%.

Michael has ties to Republican fund-raisers, having gone to them when he ran against state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys) in 1982.

Michael, who lives in Sunland, said in an interview that he had planned before Finn's death to challenge the councilman when his term expired in 1989.

Others considering running include Bob Ronka, who preceded Finn on the council, and Marie Harris, a Pacoima activist who ran unsuccessfully against Finn in 1981. Ronka gave up his council seat in an unsuccessful bid to become city attorney.

Latinos Considering Race

A number of Latinos also are considering entering the race, including Al Avila, a former Finn aide who is now on Eastside Councilman Richard Alatorre's staff, and Jose Galvan, head of a Latino voter registration group called Concilio of Hispanic Affairs.

The opportunity for a Latino to win election was enhanced by the council's recent redistricting, which boosted the Latino population in the 1st District from 36% to 40%, based on 1980 census figures.

Also, a petition drive has begun in the 1st District to build support for a council appointment of Finn's widow, Anne, to fill the vacancy until an election can be held.

Finn, 68, who represented the northeast Valley since 1981, died Tuesday of a ruptured aorta, a few hours after being stricken with chest pains while chairing a council committee meeting.

On Friday, Council President Pat Russell instructed Chief Legislative Analyst William McCarley to operate Finn's office until a successor is appointed or elected, as is common practice when a vacancy occurs on the council.

Committee to Meet

The council's Charter and Elections Committee will meet Wednesday to discuss whether to fill the vacancy by appointment or special election.

The council must call an election no later than the city's next regularly scheduled election, which is April, 1987.

City Clerk Elias Martinez said a preliminary ruling by the city attorney's office says the council cannot schedule a special election for Nov. 4, the date of the statewide election, because of the redistricting. Martinez said the City Charter requires the council to allow 90 days to elapse before having an election after redistricting. Martinez said the election could be scheduled for late November.

If an appointment is made, the person will serve only until a new council member is elected.

In a related matter, some community activists in Sunland plan to hold a candlelight memorial service for Finn at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sunland Park.

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