Unlike many Hawthorne city elections in recent years, when development issues and personal attacks dominated the campaigns, the races for two council seats and the mayor's job are quiet, polite and devoid of major issues.
"This election does seem to be more bland, more mundane," said incumbent Councilman Steve Andersen, who was first elected in 1983 and is seeking another four-year term.
Indeed, had electrical contractor Mike Martin not qualified as a write-in candidate after the filing period closed, Andersen and incumbent Councilwoman Ginny McGinnis Lambert would have only one challenger in the race for two seats: Eleanore I. Carlson, a business school job placement counselor.
In Hawthorne, council members do not run in districts. The top two vote-getters will be elected.
In the mayoral contest, incumbent Mayor Betty J. Ainsworth, who is seeking her second two-year term, is being challenged by self-styled "neighborhood advocate" Kathleen (Kathy) Corsiglia, an unsuccessful council candidate in 1985.
Voters will also cast ballots on a special tax to raise $300,000 annually for a new paramedic unit. A two-thirds vote is needed for passage.
Joan Fitzsimmons, chief deputy city clerk, said she expects about 20% of the 21,403 registered voters in this 5.6-square-mile city of 63,000 residents to show up at the polls Nov. 3. Voter turnout at the last two city elections was 18.6% for the March, 1986, special election in which Lambert was elected to fill the council vacancy created when Ainsworth was elected mayor, and 17.5% in the November, 1985, election when Councilmen David York and Charles Bookhammer were reelected.
With a little more than two weeks remaining before this year's election, the closest thing to a controversy is the decision by York and Bookhammer to snub Lambert by endorsing Andersen and Martin.
"I would do nothing outwardly to hurt Councilwoman Lambert," York said. "She's doing the best she can. I have no grudges or anything against her. But I've known (Martin) since he was about 14 and watched him grow up into a fine young man. He's bright and level-headed and I think he would do a good job as a councilman."
Mind Made Up
"I don't want to take cheap shots at anyone, but Ginny Lambert is too narrow-minded," Bookhammer said. "She has her mind made up before the meeting and there is nothing anyone can say to change it. . . . As for Steve, he has always been a conscientious council member."
Lambert downplayed the lack of support from her colleagues, saying, "They didn't support me in my last election and I don't think it has proven to be any detriment."
She also said that if pushing for a certain project is narrow-minded, then her colleagues are guilty of it, too.
"In certain instances, you can say that about each of us, especially if you have a pet project you are trying to promote," Lambert said.
Less surprising is the endorsement of the two challengers by the Hawthorne Firemen's Assn. The firefighters have been seeking a significant salary boost that would place them among the top three municipal departments in the South Bay, but in each of the past three years the City Council has given only 5% salary increases.
The firemen's union has contributed $2,000 each to the campaigns of Martin and Carlson. The association has also endorsed Ainsworth but did not contribute any money to her because, a spokesman said, she did not ask for any.
Special Property Tax
Harold Hofmeister, vice president of the firemen's union, said the group endorsed the challengers because they have long been supporters of adding a second paramedic unit. Hofmeister said Andersen's and Lambert's support of the additional paramedics has come only recently--an assertion that both incumbents deny.
Proposition H on the ballot asks voters whether a special property tax based on the diameter of a parcel's water main should be imposed over the next seven years to raise more than $300,000 annually for a second paramedic unit.
The annual assessments would range from $16 for a line less than one inch wide--the size used in most single-family homes--to $2,844 for a 10-inch-wide line. The only one that large is at Northrop Corp.
In the ballot argument in favor of the measure, Andersen said the second paramedic unit is needed because about 25% of the calls last year came in when paramedics already were busy. He said the council "searched and researched" other methods of raising money and reluctantly decided on the special tax to "spread the cost over the widest possible base."
Corsiglia, who wrote the ballot argument against the proposition, acknowledged the need for the additional paramedic unit, but said the special tax is not the way to pay for it.
County Fire Service
"If the voters can get over the emotional aspect of the issue, it will not pass," she said.
Corsiglia said she believes the money could be found in the Fire Department's nearly $5-million budget if overtime and other expenses were cut back.