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Recalled Pair Among 16 in Baldwin Park Council Races

July 09, 1987|ELIZABETH CARAS | Times Staff Writer

Some Baldwin Park residents think their city has an image problem, and 16 of them think they know how to solve it.

Better police protection, increased communication between residents and city officials, larger retail stores and a wider Main Street are just some of the proposals supported by the 16 candidates running for three positions in Tuesday's special election.

Baldwin Park was left with only two City Council members after Mayor Jack B. White and Councilman Leo W. King were ousted in a recall election last March.

The name of a third councilman, Robert H. McNeill, who died in December, also appeared on the recall ballot, but the vote on his recall ended in a tie, so McNeill technically was not recalled.

Had a majority, or three of the five council members, been recalled, White and King would have been allowed to serve until the special election Tuesday. But since only two were recalled, the state Legislature approved special legislation that allowed Councilmen Richard Gibson and Bobbie Izell to conduct city business by themselves.

Undaunted by their recall, White and King are running again, although for different offices.

The other candidates are:

Anne G. Farkas, Bette L. Lowes and Frank Mamone, all running for mayor.

Arthur L. Salsameda, Eulogio (Eli) A. Roca, Terry O. Hughes, Carlo L. Leone, Albert E. Sanders, Henry J. Littlejohn and Julia S. McNeill, the councilman's widow, all running for McNeill's seat.

Gustavo M. Rodriguez, Justina (Tina) T. Ramirez, Raquel Corrales and Raul A. Reyes, all running for King's seat.

White and King say that, because only 2,672 of the city's 15,252 registered voters cast ballots in the March election, the recall did not reflect the will of the people.

They also contend that many voters cast ballots not against them but against a controversial utility tax and redevelopment project that sparked the recall.

Under state law, a person defeated in a recall election can run immediately for another position but must wait at least six months to run for the office from which he was ousted.

So King, 58, is seeking the mayoral position previously held by White, and White, 54, is seeking the council seat from which King was ousted. Both terms expire in April, 1988.

'Every Right to Run'

"I have every right to run by law, and with the figures the way they are, why shouldn't I run?" asked King, a retired engineer.

Despite the law, most of the other candidates have indicated that White and King should have bowed out after the recall and they cite the pair's refusal to do so as the main reason they decided to run.

"They're thumbing their nose at the people," said Farkas, 55, a community activist who is running for mayor. "The people have turned them out of office. They have told the citizens: 'Be damned.' "

Others wondered why King and White are risking a second defeat so soon after the first, especially when a regular election is scheduled next April.

"It doesn't pay that much. It's not such a prestigious position to be the mayor of Baldwin Park," said Salsameda, 36, a salesman who is one of the seven candidates running to complete McNeill's term, which expires in April, 1990. "Why run again? I just don't understand."

Other than the candidacy issue, the 16 on the ballot are running on similar platforms aimed at making Baldwin Park a better place in which to live.

Communication Urged

At the top of most of their lists is improved communication between city officials and residents. Some said the recall might not have occurred if councilmen had done a better job of keeping constituents informed about city programs.

As an example, many cited the imposition of a 5% utility tax in August, 1985, that took most residents by surprise.

"The utility tax is a good concept," said Roca, 29, a printer who also seeks McNeill's seat. "If it was spelled out to the public, the public would have been aware of that."

Both White, a law enforcement executive who had served as mayor since 1978, and King acknowledge that they could have done a better job of informing residents about their actions. They said they should have considered publishing a community newsletter.

"The people need to know more about what we're doing," said mayoral candidate Lowes, 54, a homemaker.

"What I want is more communication for the people who are really affected by city matters," said Roca.

More Police Wanted

Others, such as mayoral candidate Mamone, 64, a retired quality assurance officer with the Department of Defense, want the city to hire more police officers and possibly get bigger raises for those already on the city payroll. They believe that a larger, better-paid police force would reduce crime and make residents feel more secure.

Rodriguez, 27, a businessman who is one of the five candidates for King's seat, said the city's 63 sworn police officers cannot effectively serve Baldwin Park's 60,000 residents.

"They're underpaid, understaffed, and some of the equipment they need to fight crime is outdated," Rodriguez said.

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