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Southeast Elections : In Hawaiian Gardens : Crowded Field Raises Bevy of Issues in Race

March 24, 1988|RITA PYRILLIS | Times Staff Writer

HAWAIIAN GARDENS — There are about as many campaign issues as there are candidates in April's City Council election, in which three incumbents are facing seven challengers.

Council members Rosalie R. Sher, Richard O. Vineyard and Venn W. Furgeson are campaigning primarily on past accomplishments, but the challengers have raised several issues, ranging from the need for more after-school programs to improving relations with the Sheriff's Department.

Randy Black, a 24-year-old florist in his first council race, said the most important issue facing the city is the need to accelerate redevelopment.

Black criticized city officials for "taking too long to get projects off the ground."

"I don't think the city has done enough in redevelopment in the last few years," he said. "If I am elected, I would move on the redevelopment plans much faster."

He said the city's proposal to build a $4-million senior citizens center and library complex, has been in the planning stages for more than a year. The Redevelopment Agency is negotiating with the Los Angeles County Library over the terms of the lease.

Glenn I. Burner, 55, a Long Beach Navy shipyard worker, another political newcomer, said he would like to find a local nonprofit group to take over the Cooper Fellowship bingo parlor, which last month closed indefinitely.

Santa Ana-based Cooper represented the city's largest single source of tax revenue, providing up to $200,000 in annual revenue.

Lupe A. Cabrera, 54, the only challenger to have served on the council, said he is running again to restore "unity on the council."

"The present council is constantly fighting with each other, and I don't think that is good for the city," said Cabrera, who was on the council in 1974-86. Cabrera, a retired grocery store owner, was defeated for reelection two years ago.

Cabrera noted that last year three key city officials--the city administrator, planning director and Redevelopment Agency director--resigned.

"In the last two years things haven't been stable, and I think it's hurt the city," he said.

Mary Corrales, 39, a homemaker and city public safety commissioner, said that in addition to more after-school sports programs at city parks, she would like to see computer, art classes and other educational programs offered.

"Sports are important, but I would like our kids to learn a skill," Corrales said. "Kids do graffiti. Obviously, they like to draw. Why not teach them to draw the right way in drawing classes?"

Virginia Marie Lee, 65, whose husband, C. Robert Lee, was on the council when the city incorporated in 1964, said she does not have any issues to raise.

"I don't have a platform," said Lee, who owns a paint store in the city. "I just want to help all the people in Hawaiian Gardens."

Ismael Moreno, 23, a program director for Girls Club of Pasadena, said if elected he would work to improve relations with the Sheriff's Department.

"Many of our kids are getting harassed by sheriff's deputies," Moreno said. "We need to set up meetings with community members and the Sheriff's Department."

He said that a sheriff's car has been assigned exclusively to the city since August, with two Spanish-speaking officers. It patrols seven days a week to promote better relations, but that has not solved the city's problems, he said.

H. M. Lennie Wagner, 63, owner of a kennel and pet store, said if elected she would work to improve the city's relationship with the ABC Unified School District. The district also serves Cerritos, Artesia and parts of Norwalk and Lakewood.

During last year's school board election, Hawaiian Gardens officials complained about the lack of local representation on the board. Some Hawaiian Gardens council members and residents accused ABC officials of shortchanging the city on programs and services provided to other parts of the district.

Wagner said she supports electing board members by districts, instead of at-large.

"Our needs are not being met," Wagner said. "We need a Hispanic on the school board and someone from our city. The way to do this is through proper districting."

As for the incumbents:

Sher, 68, a lawyer seeking her second term, cited her efforts to bolster redevelopment in this 1-square-mile city.

"Until I got on the council, there were no redevelopment projects," Sher said. "Redevelopment money was just sitting there. But in the last four years a lot has happened."

The city's most significant redevelopment project is the $10-million commercial Towne Center on Norwalk Boulevard and Carson Avenue, which opened this fall. The center, the city's largest redevelopment project, is anchored by an Albertson's market surrounded by several small retail shops and fast-food restaurants.

Furgeson, 76, a retired plastering contractor running for his sixth term, also noted his role in the developing the center.

"I've been a supporter of the Towne Center since the beginning," Furgeson said. "I would like to see through to the end all the redevelopment plans the city has started."

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