A former officeholder won Garden Grove's special mayoral election Tuesday by just 19 votes, and a challenger and an incumbent won contests for two Buena Park City Council seats.
With all 80 Garden Grove precincts reporting, former Mayor J. Tilman Williams wound up at the top of an eight-man field, which included councilmen Milton Krieger and Robert F. Dinsen, after the returns had seesawed back and forth all night.
Griffin, Bone Win
Referring to his 19-vote margin, Williams said: "It's nice to win by a landslide. I think people just got tired of spending the money. They should have never had this election and spent $75,000 for it. They (the City Council) should have appointed a mayor."
Krieger said: "This was a very unusual race for Garden Grove. There was a lot of trash thrown out in the last few days. I'm only disappointed in that.'
In Buena Park, paint contractor D.L. Bone won his first council seat, and Mayor Don Griffin was reelected to the council. Both finished ahead of incumbent Councilman Lester J. Reese and challengers Max R. Schulman and Lee Connelly.
"We're ready to declare victory," Bone said. "I'd like to thank the voters of Buena Park for showing confidence in me, and we intend to work very hard to maintain that. I think this is a new beginning. It's onward and upward.
"My being on the council will add a new voice and a new viewpoint. Whether that will mean a radical change on policies, only time will tell."
Griffin said: "I have been told over and over by people that it's great that we care about the community enough to stop and reassess standards and manage the growth."
Garden Grove's special mayoral election became necessary when Mayor Jonathan H. Cannon was appointed by the governor to a new West Orange County Municipal Court judgeship in August and the remaining four council members were unable to agree on a replacement to complete Cannon's two-year term.
Three of the eight candidates in the winner-take-all election--Krieger, W.E. (Walt) Donovan and Dinsen--are council members. The remaining five challengers contended during the campaign that the City Council has given too much to certain businesses and has ignored the public will.
The recent bailout of the Princess Alicante Hotel by the city was played up by the five--former Mayor Williams; John A. (Gus) Modaffair, who was on the city Planning Commission for eight years before resigning last year; businessman Malcolm R. Fisher; businesswoman Karen Tracy Moreland, and Steven R. Childres.
Krieger and Donovan supported the plan to loan the new operators of the Alicante Hotel, the Hyatt Corp., $2 million in return for 5% ownership. Both insisted that the hotel, which opened 18 months ago, will now be profitable and provide the city with large tax revenues.
Alicante Princess Cruises originally ran the hotel but could not turn a profit. Since the Hyatt Corp. took over, the occupancy tax the city collects from the hotel has more than doubled, according to both Krieger and Donovan.
Williams was critical of the present council members and said he entered the race only because "the prima donnas on the council" couldn't appoint a mayor when Cannon resigned, thus forcing the city to spend about $60,000 on the special election.
Although all the candidates said they favored the continued redevelopment of the city's aging, cluttered downtown business district, the challengers criticized what they called a "give-away" program, such as the Alicante Hotel plan, to lure business to the city.
More Officers Favored
Improving the Police Department was another major issue addressed by the candidates. Most favored adding more patrol officers, claiming that the 155-member police force is too small to adequately protect a city that has grown to 135,000.
But Krieger, who had the support of the Garden Grove Police Assn., argued that the city has already instituted a five-year plan to gradually increase the number of uniformed officers.
In Buena Park, home of Knott's Berry Farm and the Movieland Wax Museum, the scope and pace of development were the major issues.
The city earlier this year imposed a moratorium on development in its main entertainment district--along Beach Boulevard--to give it time to draw up a comprehensive plan for future development.
But the recently approved Entertainment Corridor Plan has drawn criticism for being too vague and restrictive.
The three challengers in the Buena Park election, Bone, 44, a former member of the Fullerton Union High School District board of trustees; Connelly, a photographer, and Schulman, a government consultant and former member of the Centralia School District board of trustees, all oppose the redevelopment plan.
Schulman went so far as to accuse the City Council of driving businesses out of Buena Park with its redevelopment policies.
Griffin, a 13-year veteran of the council, and Reese, a nine-year member, were strong supporters of the redevelopment plan.
Times Staff Writers Ray Perez and Carla Rivera contributed to this story.