LYNWOOD — Paul H. Richards, who apparently received more votes than any candidate in recent city history, has been elected to the City Council to fill the vacancy left by the death of Councilman Louis A. Thompson.
Forty-three percent of the city's voters went to the polls in the eight-way race, and Richards pulled in more than 2,200 of the ballots. Longtime observers said they believe the turnout and the vote total were records.
"Council candidates have won with 900 votes in the past," said Councilwoman Evelyn Wells, who was a top vote-getter with 1,087 votes in 1985.
"Usually our voter turnout is around 15% or 16%. This is amazing. People were interested in the community and issues. This speaks well for the citizens," said E.L. Morris, who has been a councilman for 15 years.
Richards received 2,229 or 34% of the 6,476 votes cast in Tuesday's election to fill the seat on the council left vacant by Thompson's death in July.
Following his victory, Richards--who had failed to get the endorsement of any incumbent council members--was described by his new colleagues as someone who will bring harmony to a divided City Council.
Richards 30, who was running for elected office for the first time, said he will work with the other members of the council even though they supported others in the race.
"We have the same interest," said Richard, an attorney who is chief of staff for the Compton City Council.
Wells and Mayor Robert Henning had endorsed Alfreddie Johnson Jr., 25, who finished second with 1,845 votes, or 28%. Morris and Councilman John Byork had endorsed Louis J. Heine, 68, who ran third with 1,697 votes or 26%. None of the other five candidates in the race polled more than 300 votes.
"This was a good, hard-fought battle," Henning said. "The people picked the candidate they wanted. He is a young, aggressive individual. I'm looking forward to working with him."
During the campaign, Henning had accused Richards of being pushed by unnamed Compton officials, and he had criticized the amount of money Richards spent in the campaign. While praising Richards after the election, Henning said he was still disturbed by Richards' campaign spending.
Henning said he will ask the council to pass an ordinance to limit the money a candidate can spend on a campaign. The mayor said spending should be limited to about $6,000 for council candidates. He said the campaign limits would prevent special-interest groups from gaining control.
With the amount of literature sent through the mail, Henning said he estimates that Richards could have spent as much as $30,000.
Richards, however, said he "might have spent about $12,000" but nowhere near $30,000.
The latest financial statements filed with the city clerk showed that Richards spent more money than any of the other candidates, $12,034, and raised the most, $14,280.
Johnson's financial filings show that he had not raised or spent anything. However, Johnson said that he expects his spending will amount to around $4,000 when the final financial reports are submitted.
Second-place finisher Heine also raised the issue of campaign money, saying, "if I had the money (like Richards), I would have won, too." However, Heine said there were "no sour grapes."
"I feel the people made the choice they wanted," he said. Heine, who finished fourth in last November's council election, reported raising $2,642 and spending $2,535.
Morris said he was "disappointed" that Heine had lost, but he would work with Richards.
The election of the fifth member, Morris said, means "the council will be able to get rid of those two-to-two votes. We can get back to running the city."
Morris said the council was often deadlocked, usually with Morris and Byork voting as a block and Henning and Wells voting together.
Morris said "nothing critical had developed" over the split votes, but a fifth vote would help decide pending issues. For example, Morris said, appointments to the Planning Commission and the Parking and Traffic Commission were being held up because the council could not break its tie.
Other candidates and the votes they received: Carlos P. Manlapaz, 297; James Rowe, 198; George L. Lewis, 127; John M. James, 45, and Leonard Gibbs, 38.