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Some Campaign Issues Raise Eyebrows

February 28, 1988|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — There are some issues that politicians, and politicians-to-be, just don't quibble about.

After all, who wouldn't want to lower the crime rate, boost education or train teen-agers for jobs? No controversy there.

But in the Long Beach mayoral race, some of the solutions addressing those motherhood-and-apple-pie issues have raised a few eyebrows.

Mayoral candidate Luanne Pryor, for example, has suggested establishing curfews for adults in crime-ridden neighborhoods if the residents request it and can prove there is a need.

Would Approve Curfew

"If that's what they felt. And they could document (the need for curfews.) And I felt their safety was impaired, you are darn right I would (approve a curfew,)" Pryor said. "I don't want to see people get hurt."

A measure such as adult curfews, Pryor said, would call attention to gang problems in areas such as Willmore City, a neighborhood north of downtown where yuppies have been buying and renovating historic but run-down houses. She said curfews would only be implemented at the request of the neighborhood after residents "worked with the Police Department."

"You wonder if people realize how serious the problem is," she said, pointing out that curfews have worked in other cities across the world, such as Santiago, Chile.

She also would like police to enforce an existing state curfew on minors that places restrictions on them after 10 p.m.

Pryor, a 59-year-old owner of a public relations firm, made her suggestion on curfews during a televised campaign debate earlier this month, but it was not picked up by the other candidates. Not even Sid Solomon, president of Long Beach Area Citizens Involved--a 700-member liberal group that endorses Pryor for mayor--was aware of her idea. He does not support adult curfews: "Not in this society, in this country."

Other candidates attacked the idea.

"I always get a little concerned about government becoming too heavy-handed. . . . That's pretty severe," candidate Jan Hall, 45, said when asked what she thought of neighborhood curfews. "I don't think we need martial law in the City of Long Beach."

Candidate Bud Huber, whose positions are similar to Pryor's, said Pryor "blew it on that one."

"It absolutely is martial law," said Huber, a 43-year-old aircraft engineering manager. Ernie Kell, 59, the city's appointed mayor who consistently refuses to discuss other candidates' positions, declined to comment on Pryor's idea.

Another new concept raised recently is Kell's idea to create an office of education in City Hall to work with the school district on several ongoing and new programs.

As part of his annual "State of the City" address, Kell said, " . . . the responsibility for quality education rests with all, and not just the school district."

But Hall and Pryor questioned the timing of the proposal and called it a waste of money. Both said Kell turned the mayor's annual address into "a campaign speech." Hall said the city does not have the resources to meddle in education by creating "a new city bureaucracy"--particularly when many of the programs Kell suggests already exist.

Ed Eveland, an assistant superintendent with the Long Beach Unified School District, said the district supports the concept "as long as they mean what they say and they want to help us. I hope it's not just politicking."

Hall also has a new proposal she raised during a recent mayoral forum. The councilwoman said she would like to see seniors and youth establish a partnership in which teen-agers could be trained to do different jobs while assisting elderly people who may need help in keeping up their homes.

Hall said the partnership idea is not "just campaign rhetoric." She cited a couple of examples of ideas she made work--including the creation of Marina Vista Park, which she said was built after she raised about $200,000 from the private sector.

But Pryor criticized Hall's tone as "patronizing"--"a lot of seniors lead wonderful, active lives"--and said the proposal "made no sense."

While Hall, Kell and Pryor have come up with some interesting new concepts, they--along with Huber--are well-versed on other issues.

The remaining five candidates, however, concentrate mostly on one or two issues:

Thomas (Ski) Demski, 58, a local businessman known for his collection of large American flags, wants to paint crosswalks throughout town and raise the limit on flagpole heights.

Richard H. Hallowell, a 71-year-old retiree, emphasizes more should be done to combat crime and aid the downtrodden.

David E. Kaye, a 62-year-old landlord, says he is seeking political office so that his statewide initiative to reform homeowner and small business liability insurance has a better chance of passing. More recently, he began plugging a second initiative to ease driver insurance liability.

John J. Kearney, a 64-year-old retiree, has targeted controlling growth as well as restructuring city government by asking voters to amend the city charter and eliminate the city manager's job.

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