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Recalled Officials Returned to Office in Baldwin Park

July 16, 1987|ELIZABETH CARAS | Times Staff Writer

BALDWIN PARK — Two of the winners in Tuesday's special election promised business as usual in a city where business has been anything but usual for months.

Four months after they were ousted in a recall election, Jack B. White and Leo W. King were returned to the City Council, although in different offices.

King was elected mayor, the position formerly held by White, and White was chosen to fill King's former council seat. Both terms end in April.

The third open seat was won by Julia S. McNeill, who will fill the position held by her husband, Robert H. McNeill, until he died in December. That term ends in April, 1990.

Confusing Period

The election ends a confusing period that began with McNeill's death and became more complicated with the March recall election of White and King. Since that election, the city has been run by two council members, who have postponed action on major projects until a full council is in place. The three are expected to join the council next week, after the election results are made official.

King received 1,452 votes for mayor, defeating Frank Mamone, 871; Bette L. Lowes, 555, and Anne G. Farkas, 209.

White was the election's top vote-getter with 1,482 votes for the council seat formerly held by King. He received nearly three times as many votes as his two closest competitors, Justina T. (Tina) Ramirez, 526, and Raquel Corrales, 510. Raul A. Reyes received 288 votes, and Gustavo M. Rodriguez got 282 votes.

McNeill with 1,180 votes, defeated Terry O. Hughes, 801; Eulogio A. (Eli) Roca, 354; Albert E. Sanders, 304; Henry J. Littlejohn, 292; Arthur L. Salsameda, 101, and Carlo L. Leone, 86.

King and White said their wins are a signal that they should pursue redevelopment projects and attempt to attract large retail stores, just as they did before their recall. They did say, however, that they would work harder to communicate with residents, especially about controversial projects, such as the utility tax and a redevelopment project that sparked the recall.

"I'm glad that the people approve of the way we've been running the city all these years," White said, pointing to the final tallies. "I'd hate it if we had worked all these years in the wrong direction." White, 54, had been mayor for nine years before the recall.

King, 58, said he hoped he and White had cleared up what he called misconceptions about some of their decisions, especially the utility tax. The council should have done a better job of explaining the need for the tax, added King, who had been on the council for 15 years before his recall.

Message From the People

"I just think that we got a message out to the people of our true intent," King said. "The people listened to us and felt that the city was going in an orderly manner."

Herschel Keyser, who led the effort to recall White and King, said he was not surprised that the two were returned to office, in view of the large number of opponents.

The group he heads, Citizens for Better Government, will meet Sunday to consider its options for the next City Council election in April, he said.

"We're not going to give up," he said. "The war's not over, they just won a battle."

Keyser said he hopes the group will combine efforts behind one opponent for both King and White, if they run again.

Emotional Night

Election night was a poignant one for McNeill, 65.

Surrounded by more than 20 family members, eight of her nine grown children and two grandchildren, she joined White, King and several other candidates watching the results at the council chamber in City Hall.

As she fingered a diamond-cluster ring her husband had given her for their 50th wedding anniversary six months before his death, she thought about what he would think of the outcome.

"I think he feels good wherever he is," McNeill said. "He knows I'll do a good job and he knows I'll carry on the same principles that he had."

One of McNeill's daughters, Donnie Eddings, said it was a "double blessing to have two members of my family elected to leadership in City Council."

Eddings also had an idea about what her father would think of the election. "I think he would be elated," she said. "As a matter of fact, I'm sure he is."

During the campaign, McNeill generally supported the positions held by White and King.

White and King had been criticized by some residents for running again so soon after the recall, but they said that the low turnout in that election did not reflect the will of the people. In the recall, ballots were cast by 2,672 of the 15,252 residents who were registered at the time.

City officials said that 3,187 of the 15,343 residents now registered voted in Tuesday's election.

Anxious to Know

Councilman Bobbie Izell was also at City Hall Tuesday night, arriving before the polls closed at 7 p.m., eager to see who would join him and Councilman Richard Gibson on the five-member body.

The two have conducted city business by themselves since the recall.

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