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Local Issues, Congressional Races Enter the Countdown : Cityhood the Major Issue in Diamond Bar Election

October 23, 1986|JESSE KATZ | Times Staff Writer

DIAMOND BAR — In an election in which all five candidates agree on most of the issues, differing opinions have been expressed about the hotly contested issue of whether this unincorporated community of 70,000 should become a city.

Candidates running for the Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), which serves as an advisory group to the county Board of Supervisors, include Daniel O. Buffington, 36, a podiatrist; Joseph J. McManus, 47, a heating and air-conditioning contractor; Douglas J. Ort, 25, a gas meter reader; Donald G. Stokes, 56, an insurance agent, and Gary H. Werner, 36, a community planning consultant.

Stokes, who has served on the council since the five-member board was created 10 years ago, said the group "goofed" in the past by not taking a strong position in favor of incorporation.

"I would like to see a city here," Stokes said at a public forum last week in which all the candidates in the Nov. 4 election spoke about incorporation and other issues.

Ort said he opposes incorporation.

"I want to see that for every dollar we're taxed, we get a dollar back in services," he said. "(Those) facts aren't there at this time."

Werner said he advocates cityhood but is concerned that there is not yet enough community support to make it work. "I would not take a city if it were offered to me tomorrow," Werner said.

Buffington said he has mixed feelings about cityhood. "I'd like to see local control . . . but right now we don't have the sales revenue to support a city," he said.

McManus said he did not have enough facts to make a decision.

"I'm probably one of the few people in the community who doesn't have strong feeling one way or another," McManus said.

An effort to incorporate the community failed in November, 1983, by 230 out of 6,696 votes cast. A petition drive to place the issue back on the ballot was started earlier this year but has stalled. Cityhood advocates say the issue is not dead, however.

All five have vowed to enhance communication with local residents and Los Angeles County officials.

Often echoing each other's words, the candidates at the forum repeated promises to strengthen the advisory council by opening lines of communication and encouraging community participation.

Buffington, a five-year resident and a member of the Diamond Bar Future Committee and Diamond Bar Identity Committee, told the audience, "I'm sick and tired of hearing people say MAC is a worthless body with no power."

"I'm sick and tired of hearing people say that we're under the thumb of the county and we just have to take our licks as they come," he said.

McManus, an eight-year resident and chairman of the Diamond Bar Future Committee, said his experience as a businessman has put him in contact with many community concerns.

"I deal with the real world on a daily basis," McManus said.

Ort, a resident of Diamond Bar for a year and a half, said he is concerned that many people have never even heard of the advisory council.

"We need more community participation," Ort said. "There has been a lack of input."

Stokes, president of the Diamond Bar Rotary Club and a resident for 24 years, said he would continue to communicate openly with county officials.

"If you don't agree with them, you may be picked out and put out to pasture," Stokes said. "(But) I'm not a yes-man and I'm not a rubber-stamp to the county of Los Angeles."

Werner, a four-year resident and chairman of the Diamond Bar Community Identity Committee, said the advisory council needs to exert more influence to meet the changing character of the community.

"The community has grown up and our needs have been significantly changed and altered," Werner said. "MAC, in my judgment, has not kept pace."

All the candidates said they support construction of a new high school in northern Diamond Bar, an issue that has sparked several recent clashes with Pomona Unified School District officials, who have jurisdiction over the area.

John Bennett, who served on MAC for six years chose not to run for reelection.

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