The runoff campaign between Redondo Beach Treasurer Alice DeLong and challenger William MacAlpin has been relatively quiet since big-spending, well-connected Bruce Unruh came in third in the March primary.
Unruh's influence, however, is still being felt. MacAlpin has picked up on some of his issues, and DeLong is still criticizing campaign spending as Tuesday's runoff approaches.
The city treasurer invests the city's money and keeps track of its income. The job now pays $37,800 a year and will pay $48,000 after the election.
DeLong and MacAlpin made Unruh's campaign spending the major issue in the March 3 election, predicting that voters would be offended by the large amount he raised--at least $133,000.
DeLong is now criticizing MacAlpin's $20,000 campaign fund as excessive for a local election, even though she acknowledges that the "amount of money looks measly by comparison" to Unruh's campaign funds.
The 12-year incumbent said voters should not elect a new treasurer "just to change." She said she has earned $24 million for the financially sound city through smart investments during her three four-year terms.
MacAlpin said DeLong has put too much money in certificates of deposit and could make more money by investing in longer-term, higher-yielding investment vehicles. He has followed Unruh's lead and now advocates lowering or eliminating several taxes and fees, but the treasurer has no authority to take such steps.
Supported by Mayor
MacAlpin is endorsed by the entire City Council and DeLong is supported by the mayor. Although the City Council and Mayor Barbara J. Doerr are often at odds, the city treasurer's election is not expected to affect the city's political balance.
Members of the council have said that although DeLong has done a good job, MacAlpin could do better. Some members said they had promised their support to MacAlpin before they realized DeLong would seek reelection.
DeLong resigned in January, 1986, and although she rescinded the action two weeks later, many believed she would not seek reelection.
DeLong also was an unsuccessful District 1 City Council candidate in 1985. MacAlpin and some council members said DeLong's actions indicate that she does not know what she wants.
DeLong acknowledged that she may have confused voters by her resignation, but said she no longer is faced with the family problems she had then.
The usually low-key treasurer's race drew a lot of attention in the March 3 election because of Unruh's huge campaign fund--which was nearly four times as large as any candidate for any office in the city's 95-year history--and because his father is state Treasurer Jesse Unruh, a powerful California politician for three decades.
DeLong Placed First
DeLong, 52, placed first in the March election with 2,240 votes, or 40.5% of the total. That was short of the 50% plus one required by city law, so DeLong was forced into a runoff with MacAlpin, 50, who received 1,673 votes, or 30.2%. Unruh, 40, was a close third with 1,625 votes, or 29.5%.
DeLong, who spent about $2,500 during the first election and expects to spend another $5,000 on the runoff, says MacAlpin is spending too much.
MacAlpin spent about $8,000 on the March election and a political action committee, Citizens for Open Governmental Services, spent another $5,000. MacAlpin estimates he will spend another $12,000 by Tuesday.
DeLong, who worked last year on an unsuccessful petition drive seeking to limit campaign contributions, said she is opposed to MacAlpin's acceptance of contributions from people who do business with the city and his acceptance of a $1,500 loan from Councilman Archie Snow and his wife.
"He's going to be a little bit subservient to them," she said.
According to MacAlpin's campaign statements, he has received several contributions from individuals and companies that do business with the city.
MacAlpin said he will not be beholden to any of his contributors. He defended his campaign spending, saying it is not an excessive amount for a citywide race and he pointed out that council candidates have spent as much on a district race.
MacAlpin has seized on a few issues raised by Unruh during the initial campaign, although with less intensity.
Unruh had advocated the elimination of the 5% utility users' tax. MacAlpin said then that the tax could be lowered further; now, reducing the tax is one of his major issues. He also suggests reducing or eliminating the property transfer tax and reducing some parking fines from $13 to $8.
MacAlpin's flyer reads: "William MacAlpin believes that taxes in Redondo Beach are too high--and he wants to do something about it." He acknowledged in an interview, however, that only the City Council has the power to lower taxes.
"I'll speak up for lower taxes and lower fees," he said. The city would not lose money, he said, because the large amount of development in North Redondo in recent years will bring more property tax money into the city.