REDONDO BEACH — It is an unusual concession for a challenger: James J. Isaac says the incumbent in City Council District 5, Ronald A. Cawdrey, is the best councilman he has ever seen in the district.
But Isaac says he could do an even better job.
The third candidate in Tuesday's election, Deloris Thiessen, does not rate Cawdrey as highly. Thiessen says Cawdrey "promises one thing and does another."
Cawdrey takes credit for traffic and parking improvements in the district, which is bordered roughly by Compton and Aviation boulevards and Matthews and Inglewood avenues. He expects a bigger campaign budget will give him an edge over his challengers.
Cawdrey, 50, was appointed to the seat in 1982, after Gene King resigned, and was elected to a four-year term the following year. He survived a 1985 recall effort that was led by Thiessen and supported by Isaac.
Thiessen, a housewife, was one of 17 candidates who sought the position vacated by King. In an interview, she said that she did not attempt to recall Cawdrey out of bitterness when she was not appointed herself, but out of "bitterness because they tore down our best school."
The South Bay Union High School District closed Aviation High School in 1982, citing declining enrollment in the district.
"Now we have a baby boom," she said. "What are we going to do in 8 to 10 years for a high school?"
Cawdrey said he has been unjustly blamed for the school's closing. "I'm not unhappy with the job I've done," he said. "I am unhappy with some of the things I got saddled with, such as Aviation School. I didn't have anything to do with the closing of that school or the sale of that school."
Recall proponents were upset that Cawdrey favored full development of the Aviation site and voted to change the zoning to allow commercial development there. Voters eventually decided that 11.2 acres of the site should be preserved as open space for park and recreational uses and the remaining 29 acres, divided into two sections, could be sold and developed.
Cawdrey said he would like to put a new pool and tennis courts on the site, some of which has been leased by the city. Thiessen said she also wants a swimming pool on what remains of the site. Most of the parcel has been sold to a developer for a commercial project.
Isaac, 56, said the land should have been used for low-income and senior citizen housing. He said the auditorium there could be used for civic functions and small conventions.
All three candidates agree that traffic and parking in the district need to be improved.
Cawdrey said, however, that he has participated in action that has helped improve the situation. The City Council has downzoned all residential districts, he said, and has required more off-street parking for new developments.
Cawdrey said he wants more off-street parking in city, but is not sure how to obtain it. He said he does not want any more parking structures, unless grading of the land would keep much of them from view.
He said that during the next four years he would like to help the cleanup of some areas and buildings in his district--such as the Inglewood Avenue corridor and the Castle Golf Course on Compton Avenue--by declaring them redevelopment areas. Cawdrey also said he wants Aviation Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway widened.
Cawdrey, vice president of the Communications Workers of America Local 9400, expects campaign spending to give him an edge in the District 5 race. Cawdrey expects to spend about $7,000 on his reelection bid. Isaac has spent less than $5. Thiessen said she has no idea how much money she will spend, but does not expect to spend nearly as much as Cawdrey.
Cawdrey plans to send out two mailers and hold at least one fund-raiser. He has four political action committees that support him--Friends of Ron Cawdrey, Committee for Safe Streets, General Telephone Good Government Club and Citizens for Open Governmental Services.
Cawdrey is married, has four children and has lived in Redondo Beach since 1966. He said he would like to be a state legislator someday, and possibly Redondo Beach mayor. He said, however, he will probably not run for mayor in 1989 because Councilman Archie Snow, one of his allies, intends to run. Cawdrey took out papers to run for mayor in 1977 but said he did not file them because of a death in his family.
Thiessen, who declined to give her age, said she would be a better council member than Cawdrey, "because I'd listen to the people--not only listen to them, but do as they ask."
Thiessen said Cawdrey has done nothing to ease traffic and parking problems in the district. Asked what solutions she could offer, she said, "I don't know, but we better do something. We better get our heads together and come up with something. This is a residential area here and the traffic is worse than the highways."
Thiessen said residents should be made to park in their garages instead of on neighborhood streets, but did not know how the city could enact such a requirement.