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L.A. Firefighter May Seek Bernardi's Seat

February 03, 1988|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

A former president of the Los Angeles city firefighters union said Tuesday he is considering running for Councilman Ernani Bernardi's East San Fernando Valley seat in the April, 1989, municipal elections.

Lyle E. Hall, a 25-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, said he expects Bernardi, 76, to retire when his term expires next year.

But Bernardi, who had not been definite about his political plans, said Tuesday, "I will be a candidate for reelection."

Bernardi, who has been a councilman for 26 years, had been considering giving up his seat to spend more time with his ailing wife, Lucille. But he said Tuesday that his wife's health has improved, and he now plans to seek reelection.

"I have every intention of running," Hall, 47, said in an interview.

Hall, who has hired veteran City Hall political consultant Harvey Englander, said he believes that Bernardi will change his mind and decide to retire before filing for the office next January.

"I'm going on the assumption that he will not run," Hall said. "If he does make that decision, I will be poised and ready to go."

Hall is a friend of Bernardi's, although the two are political adversaries. Hall said he met with Bernardi recently to discuss the council seat. But he would not say whether Bernardi told him anything privately that would contradict the councilman's public assertion that he will seek reelection.

Hall, of Panorama City, has never run for public office. He served as president of United Firefighters, the Los Angeles firefighters' union, from 1976 until 1984. In 1980, the union spent $25,000 in an unsuccessful effort to defeat Bernardi because of his role in a campaign that limited future police and firefighters' pensions.

Decision Next Year

Hall said he would decide whether to oppose Bernardi if and when the councilman files his reelection papers next year.

If Bernardi steps down, the race could be a wild one. Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda) is said to be interested in running for the 7th District seat. The district is made up of Arleta, Pacoima, Sylmar and parts of Lake View Terrace, Panorama City, Sepulveda and Sun Valley.

A number of Latinos, including Al Avila, an aide to Councilman Richard Alatorre, also are considering possible campaigns for the seat. The district, which was radically redrawn by the City Council in 1986, is projected to be 69% Latino by the 1989 election. But Latinos represent less than a fourth of the district's registered voters.

Hall, a captain in the Fire Department, is assigned to a station in Mission Hills. Like Bernardi, he is a Democrat. Council positions, however, are nonpartisan.

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