The special election next Tuesday to fill the California Senate's 33rd District seat vacated by Paul Carpenter has lured money and platoons of political pros from Sacramento. Democrats and Republicans are pouring in dollars, each hoping to add a vote to their side when California election districts are redrawn after the 1990 census. The stakes may be high for Sacramento, but they are even higher for residents of the district, which covers communities in southern Los Angeles County--including Downey, Norwalk and Santa Fe Springs--and in northern Orange County--including Buena Park, Cypress and Los Alamitos.
For them, remote battles over the state budget will determine whether they have more money or less for public schools, medical care for senior citizens, environmental safeguards for workers and better freeways. The compromises made in Sacramento on a site for a new state prison in Los Angeles County affect everyone's public safety.
We do not agree with Cecil Green, a Norwalk city councilman, on some major issues, but on balance he is better qualified than his opponent to fill the seat that was left vacant when Carpenter was elected to the state Board of Equalization.
Green, a conservative Democrat, favors dipping into the state reserve to spend more on public schools, would vote against cuts in funding for the Medi-Cal program, and is in favor of building a new state prison in a sparsely populated area of Los Angeles County. Because he started his career as a carpenter and remembers the numbers of people he worked with who lost fingers in the days before worker safety became a public concern, he supports the continuation of Cal/OSHA, the state agency that promotes on-the-job safety and healthier work environments.
Green's experience on one of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's blue-ribbon committees should help him grapple with the district's growing traffic gridlock and other transportation problems. The councilman also cites his involvement with a joint insurance pool for 51 communities that has kept costs unusually stable for the city of Norwalk as an example of the knowledge of local problems that he would bring to the state Senate.
His opponent, Assemblyman Wayne Grisham (R-Norwalk), has tended to support the policies of Gov. George Deukmejian, but says that he has now changed his position on the public education budget and proposed cuts in the Medi-Cal program. Although the two candidates no longer differ dramatically on most of the issues, Green was the first to take positions that are more in step with the needs of the district and of the state.
With his support of the death penalty and Proposition 13, Green sets himself apart from more liberal Democratic partisans. An experienced politician, he pledges to maintain his independence in Sacramento rather than automatically fall in line with the Democrats who have helped to finance his expensive, $1.1-million, campaign.
We endorse Cecil Green in the May 12 special election with the hope that he will remain true to his conscience and to his constituents as he serves the 33rd District.