ARTESIA — The credo in this City Council race is not to say anything unkind about anyone--not yet, anyway.
There are three seats at stake and four candidates, including the three longtime incumbents, in a replay of the 1984 council race.
Councilman Ronald H. Oliver, who is now serving as mayor, has been on the council 14 years. Councilman Robert J. Jamison has served 16 years and Councilwoman Gretchen Whitney has been on the council 12 years.
The lone challenger, William R. Stach, comes the closest to saying anything critical about anybody. He believes the council is "stagnant" and there is a need for "new blood."
Stach, who ran fourth behind the three incumbents four years ago and last in a five-person race eight years ago, said "the third time is the charm."
He has staked out Whitney's seat. Although he said he has nothing unkind to say about Whitney, he said he is not running against Oliver or Jamison.
For her part, Whitney said she has adopted a wait-and-see attitude. As long as there is nothing negative said in the campaign against her, Whitney said she would have no comment about Stach.
Stach has been endorsed by Councilman James A. Van Horn, who also is treasurer for Oliver's reelection committee. Van Horn said Stach received his endorsement because "I think he is very able" and "would make a darn good council member." Van Horn said he is not being critical of any council member by endorsing Stach.
Oliver said he is not ready to make a public endorsement. Jamison, who endorsed Stach four years ago, said he is not endorsing anyone this time.
"I am not at war with anyone. I endorsed Rod Stach four years ago because I thought I needed help," Jamison said.
Jamison said four years ago he disagreed with the four other members, including Whitney and Oliver, over the way then-City Manager M. D. (Mac) McKeown was running the city.
"McKeown retired a couple of years ago. I'm not perturbed at anyone," Jamison said.
Jamison, 65, a graduate of Loyola University in Los Angeles, was self-employed for 27 years as a general engineering and building contractor. He now works as construction superintendent for Koll Construction Co. in Santa Monica.
Oliver, 55, said there is no controversy or strong issues in the race. "People can look at the city and see that the council has done a good job. There is no indebtedness. We are not a poor city. People are not unhappy," he said.
Oliver, who owns a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store franchise in Los Cerritos Center, has an associate of arts degree from Long Beach City College, a bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach, and a bachelor's degree from Woodbury University in Los Angeles.
Whitney said she also does not see any issues. The council has done a good job of attracting business to the community, established a good nutrition program for senior citizens and a good Neighborhood Watch program, said Whitney, 75.
Whitney, who is a saleswoman at Robinson's department store in the Cerritos mall, attended Wayne State College in Nebraska. She was a member of the ABC Unified School District Board of Education for 20 years.
Stach said downtown needs to be "cleaned and fixed up," but he does not have specific ideas on how to go about it.
"Cities around us are beginning to look better than Artesia. A lot of people are saying they live in Cerritos rather than Artesia," Stach said.
Graduate of Local Schools
Stach, 34, is a senior personnel training representative for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corp. in Long Beach. He is a graduate of Gahr High School in Cerritos and has an associate degree in industrial management from Cerritos College.
All candidates said there is a need to expand the city's business base to boost sales tax revenue in this bedroom community of nearly 15,000.
The city expects to raise about $1.2 million in retail sales taxes by the end of this fiscal year in June, according to City Manager B. Eugene Romig. Although there is less than 20 acres of vacant land left for development, Romig said, the city has developed about 10 different projects in the last three years that have helped broaden the sales tax base.
One of the more recent developments is the Artesia Towne Center at Pioneer Boulevard and 183rd Street, built by A. J. Padelford & Sons Inc. of Artesia and completed in 1987. The two-story commercial complex is being filled with tenants, Romig said. The city, which owns a portion of the land, has a 30-year lease with the developer and receives $95,000 annually in lease payments.
Artesia, unlike many cities, does not have a redevelopment agency and must convince private businesses that Artesia is a good place to build, Romig said.
Jamison said the city "is conservative" and would never consider a redevelopment agency.
"Hopefully, we can have (private) developers come and knock on our door," said Jamison, who opposes establishment of a redevelopment agency. Oliver and Whitney said they also do not want a redevelopment agency.
Stach said he would like "to see the downtown upgraded or refurbished," but he did not have a specific program.
"I'm not talking about coming in and bulldozing downtown, but right now it is pretty dumpy. The council should be able to find funds somewhere to upgrade downtown," Stach said.
Jamison and Whitney have filed statements with the city clerk's office stating that they will neither receive nor spend more than $1,000. Neither has reported spending any money. Stach has raised less than $500 and spent slightly more than $300. Oliver has nearly $800 in his campaign account but has not spent any, according to the latest financial statements.
Council members receive $300 monthly and a $150 car allowance each month. There are 5,300 registered voters for the election April 12.