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Bruce Unruh Mounts Record $84,000 Campaign for City Treasurer

March 01, 1987|KAREN ROEBUCK | Times Staff Writer

REDONDO BEACH — Bruce Unruh, who is attempting to unseat City Treasurer Alice DeLong in Tuesday's election, has raised more than twice as much money as any other candidate for any office in the city's 95-year history.

More than one-third of Unruh's reported contributions of $84,675 through Feb. 19 came from the campaign fund of his father, State Treasurer Jesse Unruh. Much of the rest was donated by investment companies that also donated to his father's campaign, Bruce Unruh acknowledged.

Former Mayor David Hayward previously held the city record with a campaign fund of nearly $35,000 for his unsuccessful reelection bid in 1981, said Deputy City Clerk Linda Gregory.

Unruh, 40, who serves full time as his father's campaign finance director, would not say how much money he expects to spend before the campaign is over. But he denied his rivals' assertions that he is attempting to buy the office. He wants to get his messages out to about 32,000 voters, he said, which costs money.

"I think he's buying a position," said William MacAlpin, the third candidate for the four-year term, which will pay $48,000 a year after the election.

DeLong said, "I think getting $84,000 and trying to spend it on this election is obscene."

DeLong and MacAlpin also expressed fears that this election, like most others in recent Redondo Beach history, will be won by the biggest spender.

DeLong, 52, a 12-year incumbent, has reported only $874 in contributions, but said she expects to spend $2,500 on her campaign. MacAlpin, 50, a corporate treasurer, has reported a fund of $4,395, but previously said he expects to spend about $10,000.

"I feel I am at somewhat of a disadvantage there--not having the dollars to match him," MacAlpin said.

Unruh received a $35,000 contribution from his father's campaign fund for state treasurer. Contributors also included executives and large corporations from across California and in New York, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Connecticut. Many contributors are in investment banking or other financially oriented businesses.

Unruh said none of his contributors were from Redondo Beach and only three were from the South Bay. Candidates do not have to identify contributors who give less than $100, but the amount must be reported.

DeLong said, "Obviously, these people are donating this money to him because of their associations with his father. . . . Otherwise I could not understand why they would be donating these sums of money."

She implied that the companies might be seeking the city's business, and said, "I am opposed to receiving money from anyone who does business with the city.

"It upsets me not only philosophically, but, also, it's very difficult to compete against, because the only way we really have of informing people is through our literature and the press."

Unruh said he would invest city funds with contributors only if they offered the best deal. Besides, he added, "What can the city of Redondo Beach do for E. F. Hutton or Dean Witter?"

As for getting all of his campaign money from outside the city, he said, "Why should I tap my friends when I have other sources I can go to?" Most of the contributors are his friends or contacts he made working in his father's campaign, he said. He said he had given some of the companies advice on how to cut red tape at the state level.

Unruh said he has talked to voters door-to-door and by telephone and has mailed out campaign flyers. Leslie Winner, of Winner Taylor & Associates Inc., an election consulting firm of Los Angeles that is managing Unruh's campaign, would not say how many brochures have been mailed, saying it is a strategy decision.

Several Redondo Beach residents said they had received between 6 and 10 mailers on Unruh's campaign as of Thursday.

Relies on Public Forum

DeLong said she hopes to get her message to voters through a public forum that was sponsored by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce and the North Redondo Rotary Club last Wednesday and will be rebroadcast on cable television six times before the election.

The program will be aired on cable Channel 3 at 2 p.m. today and at 5 p.m. Monday.

She said she mailed a letter to about 1,000 residents and another campaign brochure to about 6,000 voters. She said she has not gone door-to-door and has somewhat neglected her campaign because her 83-year-old mother has been ill.

MacAlpin said he planned to mail out four flyers and has talked to voters door-to-door and by telephone.

Unruh said that although he is the biggest campaign spender in the city's history, others have spent similar or larger amounts proportionately. As an example, he said District 4 Councilman Archie Snow spent more than $20,000 in his 1985 reelection bid, although his campaign covered only one of the city's five council districts.

Salary Differential Noted

The treasurer's full-time job pays more than a part-time council member's $6,300 annual salary, Unruh added. He noted that Snow had the incumbent's advantage in his last race, implying that the councilman did not need to spend as much.

Snow outspent his opponent, Val Dombrowski, $20,325 to $2,703 in that campaign. Gregory said that Snow holds the record for the biggest spender in a City Council race.

If none of the three candidates for the treasurer's office captures at least 50% of the votes plus one in Tuesday's general election, the two top vote-getters will face off in a runoff election May 12.

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