Competition for two at-large City Council seats got under way in earnest this week in West Hollywood, with incumbent Abbe Land and four other candidates entering the race by Tuesday's filing deadline.
The others are Ruth Williams, a community activist; Steve Michael, the publisher of a community newspaper; Paul Koretz, an aide to Mayor Alan Viterbi, and Teresa Garay, a public relations executive for a television station.
Viterbi's decision last week to not seek reelection came as a surprise in West Hollywood political circles, with several observers predicting that his absence from the ballot on April 12 will result in a wide-open scramble for at least one of the two council seats.
"I think it obviously changes things," said Ron Stone, a longtime community activist who considered entering the race but decided to devote his efforts to supporting Land and Williams.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday February 14, 1988 Home Edition Westside Part 9 Page 3 Column 1 Zones Desk 2 inches; 60 words Type of Material: Correction
An article in Thursday's Westside section incorrectly reported that West Hollywood community activist Ron Stone considered running for one of two at-large City Council seats to be contested in April, but decided instead to support Abbe Land, an incumbent, and candidate Ruth Williams. It was Ron Rose, another community activist, who considered entering the race, but who instead has offered his support to Land and Williams.
He and others predict that Land, who has served on the council since 1986, will retain her seat for another two years.
In an interview, Land said she anticipates "running, basically, on my record over the past year and a half, which I think reflects concern for all segments of the community."
The original filing deadline was last Thursday. But under the state's election law, Viterbi's decision as an incumbent not to enter the contest by that day automatically extended the deadline five days.
Viterbi said he wanted to devote more time to a new business he helped found six months ago. Until his decision was announced--just hours before the original deadline--only Williams and Michael had officially entered the contest.
Both Koretz and Garay, each making a first bid for public office, filed as candidates on Tuesday.
Koretz said he planned to leave his City Hall job immediately "to devote myself fully to the campaign."
Garay, an executive at KCOP-TV, Channel 13, said Viterbi's decision to not seek reelection strongly influenced her decision to run.
"Obviously, if there is only one incumbent in the picture to fill two places, it makes the race more attractive from my point of view," she said.
She co-chaired a citizens advisory group on the city's general plan, and last month helped organize the Save Our Park Alliance, a group opposed to construction of a proposed $25-million civic center in West Hollywood Park.
Viterbi has endorsed Koretz, his aide for the past 3 1/2 years, praising him as "the most knowledgeable person with respect to the issues affecting West Hollywood you're going to find."
Koretz, a former aide to Los Angeles City Councilmen Zev Yaroslavsky and Marvin Braude, set out to gain the support of two of West Hollywood's most important constituent groups--renters and homosexuals.
As soon as he entered the race on Tuesday, Koretz announced endorsements from state Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara), chairman of a Senate committee dealing with the AIDS crisis, and Adam Moos, a former director of the city's Department of Rent Stabilization.
"I expect to knock on every door in this city and make anyone aware who isn't already that I've been very much involved in the vital issues affecting this city over the past three or more years," Koretz said.
Williams, who has frequently criticized Viterbi for being "too pro-development" and whose campaign had been expected to target the mayor, predicted that his decision to bow out of the race will elevate her to the front-runner's position.
"I don't want to sound overly self-confident, but as someone who has been involved in this community for more than 30 years, I think people know who I am and what I stand for, and many will be ready to support me," she said.
Williams and Michael each ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in West Hollywood's inaugural election in 1984 and again in 1986.
In 1986, Williams placed fourth among 10 candidates in balloting to fill three council seats, winning 11% of the vote, compared to 15% for Councilman Steve Schulte, who was the third highest vote-getter.
The same year, Michael finished a distant third among three candidates in a special election won by Land to fill the unexpired term of former council member Valerie Terrigno.
In that election, Land won 62% of the vote to beat out nightclub owner Gene La Pietra, who won 25%. Michael finished with just over 13%.
Michael has frequently stirred controversy with his past support of such issues as legalization of card club gambling and the carving up of the 1.9-square-mile city into five council districts.
His twice-monthly newspaper, West Hollywood USA, has often taken sharp aim at West Hollywood's political Establishment, as well as the county Sheriff's Department, which provides law enforcement for the city.