A political mailer accusing Los Angeles Councilman Joel Wachs of promoting activities that spread AIDS arrived at homes in his northeast San Fernando Valley district Friday just four days before he faces reelection.
Wachs angrily branded the mailer "sleazy" and predicted that voters will nonetheless reelect him on Tuesday. "I know that the good, honest, decent people in my district will be appalled by such sleazy tactics and will resoundingly repudiate them on Election Day," he said.
The mailer attacked Wachs for serving as grand marshal of the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood in 1983, accusing homosexuals of being responsible for the spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
The mailer was sent to about 22,000 homes--almost a third of the total number of households--in the 2nd District by Daniel C. Faller, president of the Apartment Owners Assn. Faller said he spent about $3,500 of his own money on the mailer, acting independently of the association and Wachs' opponents. In the mailer, Faller identified himself as a "concerned taxpayer."
Wachs, however, contended that one of his opponents, Jerry Hays, was behind the mailer.
Landlords Urged to Block Wachs
The Apartment Owners Assn. has urged landlords throughout Los Angeles County to help defeat Wachs, the council's leading rent-control proponent, by supporting Hays, a rent-control foe.
Hays denied any involvement in the mailer. He declined to say whether he agrees with the statements in it.
A separate mailer from Hays, which was sent to all 70,000 homes in the district this week, attacked Wachs for authoring a city law "declaring AIDS is not a health hazard." Actually, the law Wachs authored prohibits discrimination against AIDS victims by employers, landlords, businesses or medical facilities.
The front of the post-card mailer sent by Faller says in bold letters: "Keep AIDS out! Please do not support politicians like Joel Wachs, who support activities that promote this deadly disease."
The reverse side attacks Wachs for serving as grand marshal of the Gay Pride Parade, which it said "promotes the idea of being proud of sexual activities."
"To encourage pride in something that is responsible for the spread of the AIDS epidemic is not demonstrating the kind of leadership we need at City Hall! These people support the idea of 'bath houses' . . . where they can meet and . . . spread more AIDS," the mailer says.
Not an 'Anti-Gay' Mailer
"This is not an 'anti-gay' mailer," the card says. "If a politician like Joel were supporting promiscuity for heterosexuals, he would be equally challenged. Our position: There is no such thing as safe sex outside of marriage. This condom propaganda is nothing but Russian roulette; and voting for Joel Wachs is also too big of a gamble."
Asked about Faller's comments, Wachs said: "He's full of prunes."
"I've been one of the leaders in trying to prevent the spread of AIDS," he said, pointing out that he was an early supporter of AIDS education in public schools and recently won council approval for a measure asking the courts to require AIDS education for anyone convicted of drug- or sex-related crimes.
"What a tragedy it is that a shallow politician would try to capitalize on something as terrible as AIDS for his own political gain," Wachs said.
Wachs, a 16-year councilman, is favored to win reelection in an almost entirely new district, created by last year's council redistricting. He faces three little-known, poorly financed opponents. In addition to Hays, the challengers are Jack E. Davis, a retired railroad brakeman, and Georgetta Wilmeth, a homemaker.
Wachs' critics have tried to portray the councilman's advocacy of such liberal causes as gay rights and rent control as being out of step with the district, which is more conservative than his old district.
For example, Proposition 64, a statewide initiative last November that would have placed restrictions on those who test positive for the AIDS virus, was defeated in the Sunland-Tujunga area, 66% to 34%. But in Studio City--the center of Wachs' former district--the defeat was by a greater margin, 86% to 14%. Wachs strongly opposed the measure.
Wachs, drawing on a campaign fund of more than $600,000, has flooded the district with political mailers.
Last week, Wachs sent out about 80,000 letters to supporters throughout the city asking them to call their friends in the 2nd District and urge them to vote for him. He said he sent most of the letters to tenants, alerting them that the "powerful landlord lobby" is trying to defeat him.
The Hays mailer also cited endorsements of Hays by fellow conservative Republicans such as county Supervisor Mike Antonovich and county Assessor John Lynch. Council seats are nonpartisan offices, but Hays, a conservative Republican, contends that he is more politically attuned to the district than Wachs, a liberal Republican.