Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich on Monday joined federal and state prosecutors in promoting a program against school-area drug pushers, while his challenger, Baxter Ward, targeted anti-growth suburban areas with radio and newspaper advertisements attacking the incumbent on the development issue.
Each man thus concentrated on what has been his main campaign theme as they fought to represent the 5th Supervisorial District, which extends from the Santa Monica Mountains through the San Fernando Valley and into the San Gabriel Valley.
Antonovich, who began his third-term reelection effort with a law-and-order emphasis, announced at a news conference that Los Angeles County will lend a second deputy district attorney to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles to handle prosecutions of drug dealers caught near schoolyards.
"This is a top priority with me," Antonovich said. "It is something I have had an interest in prior to the election."
The supervisor, dipping into anti-drug funds allocated to his district, has given $60,000 a year to help pay for the program, which costs $110,000 a year. The money is used to replace the county deputy prosecutors who are on loan to federal authorities.
Antonovich announced that Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick McLaughlin will join a previously assigned deputy, Susan Bryant-Deason, in working at the U.S. attorney's office. They will handle prosecution of violations of the federal "schoolyard law," which mandates a minimum year in prison without the possibility of probation to anyone convicted of distributing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.
Under the county-federal program, local law enforcement officers make the arrests, then the suspects face federal charges. Bryant-Deason said that tougher federal sentencing, bail and jury selection provisions make prosecutions under the federal law preferable to trying the drug dealers in state courts.
Still at Large
In the past year, she said, federal grand juries have filed 30 indictments under the program. Three of the suspects are still at large, 22 have been convicted--and given prison terms ranging from three to 12 years--and two have been acquitted. Three are still awaiting trial.
With Chief Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Fees and Assistant Dist. Atty. Curt Livesay praising his efforts at the press conference, Antonovich was displaying strong law enforcement friendships. Such friendships, along with his support for strong anti-crime programs, have been a major theme in the supervisors' campaign.
It did not prove powerful enough in the primary, where Ward, assisted by other challengers, kept Antonovich from winning more than 50% of the vote in June, thus clearing the way for the November runoff.
In June, voter resentment against Antonovich-backed building projects, especially in the fast-growing Santa Monica Mountains and northern and far western sections of the county, appeared to be the dominant issue.
The supervisor has fought back, charging Ward, while a supervisor from 1972 to 1980, cast as many development votes as Antonovich. But Monday, Ward's camp hit the development issue again with advertisements.
A newspaper advertisement appearing in local papers in the heart of slow-growth areas was in the form of a table game called the "Mike Antonovich Development Game." In addition, a another round of radio ads for Ward began being heard on local stations.