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Diamond Bar Effort Seeks to Elect Nobody

September 25, 1988|JEFFREY MILLER | Times Staff Writer

DIAMOND BAR — With the Municipal Advisory Council election less than two months away, Gary Lawson is working to get his campaign in high gear, sending out flyers and trying to drum up publicity.

But Lawson says he doesn't want voters to mark his name on the ballot. Rather, he wants them to write in what he believes is really the people's choice: "None of the above."

The point of his campaign, Lawson said, is that the MAC, created by the Board of Supervisors to represent the interests of Diamond Bar voters to the county, is a failure. The council, which would become obsolete next March if voters pass a cityhood measure, presents a "facade" of local control while not having any real power to influence county decisions.

"Over the years, the MAC has frustrated a lot of people who went to the (council) to try to get things done and wound up having to go to the county themselves," Lawson said.

The community's lack of support for the MAC can be seen in the financial condition of the council, which relies on contributions, Lawson said. The MAC often does not have enough money each month to pay the $200 salary of its only paid staff member and still owes the county $1,700 for its 1986 elections. It will have to pay $9,000 more for its election in November.

"I've had well over 100 calls, all positive," Lawson said of the community's response to his efforts. "I'm actually thrilled. I haven't heard one negative word, not even from the members of the advisory council."

A Few Negative Words

However, members of the advisory council contacted about the campaign let fly with a few negative words. They suspect it is a stunt to promote Lawson's possible candidacy for the City Council if Diamond Bar incorporates.

"I think it's lame and I think it's phony and I'm disappointed in him," said MAC member Paul Horcher, who is up for reelection and has expressed interest in running for the City Council.

"I wouldn't be surprised if (Lawson) ran for City Council," MAC incumbent Don Stokes said. "I would think he's trying to get his name out. . . . I think it'll backfire. I don't think he has any credence. I don't think he has any following in the community."

Establish Name Recognition

Five challengers seeking three seats on the MAC took out papers last month, even though the council could be replaced by a City Council five months after the election.

Horcher said these candidates are seeking to establish name recognition for subsequent council campaigns. He speculated that Lawson decided to run an anti-MAC campaign after missing the deadline to file for the MAC race.

"He missed the boat and now he's trying to sink it to get publicity," Horcher said.

Lawson confessed there is some truth to the MAC member's suspicions.

"I'll admit that originally, yes, it was a publicity stunt, but it's become something more serious," Lawson said.

Offset Incumbents' Advantage

By criticizing the MAC, Lawson is hoping to offset any advantage that council incumbents might have in a City Council race. "The fact that they sat on the MAC for 20 years doesn't make them better candidates per se because they haven't done anything."

He added that he has not decided whether he will run for the City Council. "I'm not sure I'd really like politics."

Lawson said he is planning this week to mail out a "political awareness fun quiz" featuring questions that cast doubt on the effectiveness of the council and the qualifications of its members.

Growing Too Fast

Horcher agreed with the criticism that the council has often failed to persuade the Board of Supervisors to vote against development proposals opposed by Diamond Bar residents who believe the community is growing too fast.

"Yes, we have been ignored by the board, but that's not MAC's fault," Horcher said. "If (Lawson) wants to protest something, he should protest the fact that the supervisors ignore the will of the people as expressed through the advisory council."

Lawson countered that the MAC's lack of power has been exacerbated by council members who have feuded with the county over land use decisions.

'Created Ill Will'

"They're supposed to be an advisory body to the county, but a lot of those people are fighting with the county," he said. "I think the people on the (MAC) have created ill will with the county, which I think is counterproductive for the community of Diamond Bar."

But Stokes said that losing the MAC would be a serious blow to Diamond Bar residents.

"They need local representation," he said. "They've got to have it because we don't even know if cityhood's going to go through. If we abolish the MAC and cityhood doesn't go through, we'd have nothing. I really don't know where Gary's coming from."

If he receives what he believes to be a valid defense of the MAC, Lawson said he will make a public apology for his campaign from the roof of the Lawson Medical Group's office building. Horcher and Stokes questioned whether this is just a publicity stunt for the medical group, which Lawson runs with his wife, Yvonne, a family practice physician.

Sincere Motives

However, Lawson insisted his motives are sincere.

"To tell you the truth, I hope I have to go up on the roof," he said. "I hope the MAC can do some good. But if I don't stand on the roof, I'll use whatever resources are available through the committee and the business people who are behind me to disband the MAC."

'To tell you the truth, I hope I have to go up on the roof. I hope the MAC can do some good. But if I don't stand on the roof, I'll use whatever resources are available through the committee and the business people who are behind me to disband the MAC.'

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