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Southeast Elections : Paramount Council Contenders Take Sides Over Growth

March 10, 1988|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

PARAMOUNT — During a City Council discussion in November, Councilwoman Esther Corona Caldwell warned other council members that voters could take revenge against the council for dismissing a planning commissioner after he questioned the city's building trend.

As the April election approaches, a housing boom in this former hay-growing, dairy-farming city of 40,000 continues to stir debate over whether growth is good.

The line has been drawn between no-growth candidates and supporters of growth.

Since 1985, more than 24 acres in the city have been zoned for either single-family or multifamily housing. Another 15 acres remain as potential sites for residential development. In addition to Caldwell and Councilman Gerald A. Mulrooney, there are three other candidates running for two seats on the five-member council.

Caldwell, who is seeking a third four-year term, has taken the unusual position of declining all press interviews.

However, in a Jan. 3 interview with The Times, Caldwell said she feared that proposed apartment and condominium projects will bring traffic congestion and slums to the city.

The councilwoman said in the earlier Times interview that she has supported housing developments in the past, especially single-family units, but has concluded that building has gotten out of hand. She said she had tried to persuade her colleagues to hire a consultant to study the city's density, but her motion had died for lack of a second.

Mulrooney, who is also seeking a third term, supports the growth trend.

Three Challengers

The incumbents are being challenged by Frank J. Gonzalez, a computer salesman and chairman of the city Planning Commission; Alvin G.Hatwan, a high school teacher and a member of the Planning Commission, and Mike PeteDelivuk, an accountant who ran for the council in 1986.

Challengers Gonzalez and Hatwan are solid supporters of the current growth trend, while challenger Delivuk is opposed to it.

In the November discussion, the majority of the council voted to fired Lloyd Tanner after he questioned additional apartment and condominium construction. Caldwell, who had appointed Tanner to the five-member commission, cast the only vote opposing his dismissal. Tanner is Caldwell's son-in-law.

Caldwell, 62, first served on the council from 1978 to 1982 before being defeated. She was reelected in 1984. She retired about 10 years ago as director of vocational education at Compton College. She is currently a consultant at the college.

Caldwell has raised $1,136 and spent $1,033, according to the latest financial statements filed with the city clerk's office.

Mulrooney, 56, who has served on the council since 1980, has consistently supported growth. "I've been walking (precincts) and people like what is going on," said Mulrooney, adding that he is "willing to listen to the citizens but not stop development."

Mulrooney says it is important for the city to bring middle-income residents to the city that has sought to change its image after a Rand Corp. report in 1982 called Paramount one of the nation's suburban disaster areas.

The downtown, which has been redeveloped with more than $150 million in private and Redevelopment Agency funds since 1981, needs the housing projects to thrive, Mulrooney and other officials say.

Mulrooney owns retail bicycle shops in Cerritos, Santa Ana and Costa Mesa. He said he will not accept outside political contributions but has contributed $2,494 of his own funds to his campaign.

Gonzalez, 26, is running for elective office for the first time, although he managed Paramount Mayor Manuel E. Guillen's 1986 campaign. Gonzalez says he supports growth because "it will bring new people to the community." Gonzalez says it is important to replace the 4,000 mostly middle-income residents who had to move in the mid-1970s when the state bought their land to build the Century Freeway.

He says he believes the type of housing that is being built in the city "is the quality" that will attract the middle class. "My position is pro-growth. It is not a negative issue," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez has raised $3,343, which includes $1,418 in loans from relatives and $1,925 in non-monetary contributions.

Hatwan, 64, is also running for office for the first time. A member of the Planning Commission for 10 years, he has served as its chairman several times. He said that as a commissioner he supported growth and will continue to do so if elected to the council.

"People are talking about density all over the state. We (Paramount) still have space to build," said Hatwan, who teaches driver education at Artesia High School.

No Money Reported

Hatwan has not reported raising any money.

Delivuk, who finished sixth out of a field of seven candidates in the 1986 municipal election, says he opposes "overbuilding in high-density housing."

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