PASADENA — William M. Paparian and Kathryn Nack swept two incumbents off the Board of Directors with unexpected ease Tuesday, crediting their victories to a desire for more openness in city government.
"I have questioned many of the policies and practices of the city and I will continue to do so," said Paparian, 37, who won a surprisingly lopsided victory over incumbent Jo Heckman, 73.
Nack, 62, who narrowly avoided a runoff with incumbent William L. Cathey, 39, also attributed her victory to voters wanting "new blood" on the board.
In the two other district races, incumbent John C. Crowley, 67, won nearly 92% of the vote in trouncing Maurice Simpson, and incumbent Rick Cole, 33, won 77% in defeating Billie Williams, 57.
Third Term for Crowley
Crowley, whose opponent ran a nearly nonexistent campaign, said his victory was not as easy as it seemed because "you always have to assume your opponent will come out of his corner and into the ring."
In the race for District 1, which covers northwest Pasadena, Crowley was elected to his third term with 1,420 votes to Simpson's 128.
Cole, one of the board's outspoken advocates for retaining the current nature of the city's neighborhoods, called his election to a second four-year term "exhilarating."
"It's one thing to do well as a challenger, but when you get a lot more votes four years later it means you've brought a lot of people around to supporting you," he said.
In the race for District 2, which covers north-central Pasadena, Cole received 1,063 votes to Williams' 308.
The election drew one of the lower voter turnouts in recent memory, said City Clerk Pamela Swift.
She said only 22% of the registered voters in the four districts, or about 7,600, voted.
Even in the hotly contested District 4 campaign between Paparian and Heckman, only 1,949 voted.
The focus of the campaign had been on that race and the one pitting Nack against Cathey and Nina Cash.
Paparian, a Pasadena attorney, waged an aggressive and often bitter campaign for the seat in District 4, which covers the northeastern part of the city. He received 1,181 votes, Heckman got 606 and David Rodger Headrick got 162.
Paparian, who repeatedly attacked the board in his campaign for what he called secrecy and arrogance, said his victory sent a message that voters want a change in the way City Hall is run.
"I'm not part of the old-boys network," Paparian said. "I never have been and I never will be."
He specifically questioned a secret vote by the board in December appointing Cathey to fill former board member William Bogaard's seat and a Super Bowl ticket controversy in which board members were allowed to buy and distribute 100 tickets each to the Jan. 25 game.
"It was apparent in the last year that there were elements in City Hall that had become arrogant and contemptuous of the people they were supposed to serve," Paparian said. "I think people have responded to my message of change."
Heckman was on the defensive during most of the forums before the election, saying that she and other members of the board had made some mistakes but had moved to correct them.
She refrained from attacking Paparian and instead emphasized her 12 years of experience on the board.
Heckman blamed her defeat partly on the low turnout, saying that after three terms in office many people assumed that she would win and did not vote.
Complacency, Low Turnout
"Everyone was more complacent," she said. "I kept hearing, 'You're going to win.' Well, that's never fair to assume.
"It was such a low turnout that anyone who wins it has a rather hollow victory because so few people are making the decision."
But Heckman charged that a major reason for her defeat was what she called Paparian's "dirty" tactics.
Paparian had attacked her with what she said were unsubstantiated charges about her possible conflict of interest as a real estate agent and a city official and her use of political power to get street and lighting improvements in her neighborhood.
"He started crucifying me a year ago," she said. "I should have been a little more offensive, but I was taught early on that two wrongs don't make a right. At least I can live with my conscience after this.
"I'm sorry it wasn't a clean campaign, but mine was and I'll go down smiling."
'Out of Touch'
Paparian countered that it was Heckman's fault that she lost.
"She was out of touch with people and we knew it," he said, adding that his complaints about Heckman were backed with facts.
Paparian added that voters were not only voting against Heckman but also for his platform emphasizing a more open and responsive board.
"I think people were responding to my message of change, that I was going to listen to them and work hard for them," he said.
Heckman is seen by many as a conservative, business-oriented board member.
Paparian said he expects to bring a more liberal outlook to the board.