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Postelection Hassle Costly

August 17, 1986

We live in a wonderful country where competition thrives. We teach our children early to compete and compete hard. However, most of us emphasize sportsmanship as a higher ideal than winning at any cost. Hopefully, such values carry over into our adult life.

In April, Santa Fe Springs conducted an election for two seats on the City Council. The incumbent, Ron Kernes, won easily. He took nothing for granted; he worked hard in his reelection campaign, a campaign that was a model for any community.

The second seat on the council was vacant. Two candidates emerged as the front-runners: Al Fuentes and Ruben Elizalde. They waged hard-hitting but generally fair campaigns. The results on election night were inconclusive. The challenges permitted under our election laws were initiated by both candidates. Ultimately, Mr. Elizalde took his case into the courts.

The competence of the city's beloved city clerk, Hazel Thomas, was brought into question without any basis for the allegations. Ms. Thomas was put through hell during a protracted process, which accomplished nothing other than increasing the costs to the taxpayers of Santa Fe Springs. Fortunately, the judge in this case saw through this losing effort.

Unfortunately, when unsportsmanlike conduct is exhibited in any contest, there will always be some people who get hurt. In this case, it's the taxpayers of Santa Fe Springs who are forced to pay nearly $33,000 in legal costs for the defense of the city clerk and Councilman Fuentes. It is interesting to note that the entire election only cost $9,000.

--BETTY WILSON

Mayor, Santa Fe Springs

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