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Control of Inglewood Council, School Board at Stake on Tuesday : Longtime Foes Who Aren't Even on Ballot Overshadow 2 Races

June 11, 1987|TERRY SPENCER | Community Correspondent

Neither is on the ballot, but Inglewood Mayor Edward Vincent and Councilman Anthony Scardenzan are throwing large shadows over Tuesday's City Council election.

The two men are backing opposing candidates in the two contested council races. At stake is control of Inglewood's five-member council.

Vincent has endorsed 3rd District Councilman Bruce U. Smith in his reelection bid and is literally walking 4th District candidate Ervin (Tony) Thomas around the district.

Scardenzan has given financial and endorsement support to Smith's opponent, Ann A. Wilk, and to Garland L. Hardeman, who is running against Thomas.

Scardenzan said he is trying to end Vincent's control over the council.

"Whatever he wants goes, whatever he doesn't want doesn't," Scardenzan said of the mayor, who garners the support of three council members, in addition to his own vote, on most issues. "My conscience is telling me I've got to break this political bloc.

"All I am asking from the people I'm supporting is honest government, that they be themselves, that they be independent and not be a 'yes man' to anybody, including myself."

Vincent was unavailable for comment.

Vincent and Scardenzan, who represents the 2nd District, long have feuded, with Scardenzan most recently opposing a proposition on the April primary ballot that would have increased the mayor's salary from $10,800 to $49,621.

Proposition 1, as it was called, was considered the prime factor in a 17.1% voter turnout, one of the largest in recent Inglewood history. The proposed raise went down to defeat by an almost 2-1 margin, a setback for Vincent, who only six months earlier had won reelection with 80% of the vote.

While they were rejecting Proposition 1, the voters also forced both Vincent-backed council candidates--along with the treasurer candidate he supported--into runoffs.

Smith, who is seeking a third term in his northwest area district, had expected to win reelection by getting a majority of the vote in the primary. But he admitted making a mistake by refusing to take a stand before the primary on Proposition 1, and was held to 45.2% of the vote. Wilk made the runoff against Smith by getting 29.7%, thus beating out a third candidate, Claude Lataillade, who received 25.1%.

In the 4th District, Hardeman is battling Thomas for the seat being vacated by Virgle Benson. Hardeman came up just 40 votes short of getting a majority in the primary, receiving 48.2% of the vote to Thomas' 29.6%. Two other candidates split the remaining 22.2%.

Council members, who run from individual districts, are paid salaries of $900 a month.

Treasurer candidate Wanda Marie Brown did the best of any Vincent-backed candidate, getting 48% of the vote against incumbent H. Stanley Jones' 44.3%. Pamela S. Fisher finished third with 7.7%.

Smith, 67, owner of a metal-finishing shop, said he is running on his record and that he is not afraid of any backlash because of his silence on Proposition 1. Smith said he did not openly oppose the measure because he did not want to influence voters.

"But it was obvious to anyone who was watching that I was opposed to it," Smith said. He said he told a block club meeting shortly after the proposition qualified for the ballot that he didn't think it could pass. He noted that he also opposed raising the pay of council members.

"I am relying totally on the electorate," Smith said. "They know whether I've done a good job or not."

Savings Told

Smith said he has saved the city "hundreds of thousands of dollars" by calling for the purchase of less expensive insurance.

"I'm also the most accessible councilman in the history of the city," Smith said. "I have never failed to return a phone call, whether it be a complaint or praise."

Smith, like the mayor, has frequently clashed with Scardenzan. Smith opposes his fellow councilman's call for the hiring of 30 additional police officers, arguing that the city should wait until the release of a police department study of its needs.

"I agree that we need additional police officers, but we need to find out how many we need first, before we spend $2 million," Smith said.

A personal factor has also arisen in the rivalry. Scardenzan says he is offended by jokes Smith has made about his Italian accent.

In her campaign against Smith, Wilk has emphasized that Inglewood has not had a woman council member since 1963 and has sent letters to the women voters of her district asking for their support.

"If elected, I will represent the whole community," Wilk said, "but if we are going to be a progressive community we need to move along with the times."

Wilk called Smith "wishy-washy" for his stance on Proposition 1.

"He voted to put it on the ballot, then he starts telling people that he wasn't for it," Wilk said. "Whether it's popular or not, you've got to take a stand and stand by your commitment."

Wilk also accuses Smith of ignoring the problem of airplane noise. Much of the 3rd District is under the landing pattern of Los Angeles International Airport.

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