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Local Elections : Some Contests Are Short on Glitz, Long on Earnest Campaign Efforts

November 06, 1988|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

Some campaigns leading up to elections Tuesday in the San Gabriel Valley are devoid of slick brochures, billboards and yard signs, but candidates are making an earnest effort nonetheless and raising serious issues.

For example, the question of how to handle severe ground-water pollution is being raised in three water district elections.

Republican Assemblymen Charles Bader of Pomona and William H. Lancaster of Covina have overwhelming advantages in voter registration and financial resources, making their reelection nearly a foregone conclusion, but Democrats and Libertarians are offering voters an alternative.

And even though Republicans did not nominate candidates against Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes parts of Altadena and Pasadena, or Assemblyman Charles M. Calderon (D-Alhambra), there will be minor party candidates on the ballot.

The water district elections involve seats held by John Maulding and Howard Hawkins in the 17-city Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District and Myron (Mike) Johnson in the 4-city San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. Both districts were organized nearly 30 years ago to deal with water shortages. The upper district is a member of the Metropolitan Water District, which imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California. The other district does not belong to MWD, but imports Northern California water through the State Water Project.

In the upper district, both Maulding and his opponent, Royall Brown, are engineers running for the Division 3 seat, which serves an area that takes in La Puente, part of West Covina, Avocado Heights and Valinda.

Brown, 53, of West Covina, said much of the area's ground water is so high in nitrates, volatile organic compounds or salts that it should not be consumed. Instead, he said, the area should import more water from Northern California for drinking and use local, high-nitrate ground water for irrigation.

It is more costly to import water than to pump local wells, but Brown said many residents, by buying bottled water or installing filtration systems, have "demonstrated their willingness to pay much more than the current tap water rates for good drinking water."

Maulding, 65, of Hacienda Heights, who has been on the water board for 6 years, said that switching to imported water is impossible because of the limited supply available.

Although areas of ground water have been contaminated by industrial solvents and other chemicals, the purity of the water supplied to residents has been maintained, said Maulding, who is senior vice president of a large engineering firm. Maulding said residents are protected by frequent monitoring of wells.

Water 'Meets Standards'

"The water that is being served is all right," Maulding said. "It meets all the standards."

In the upper district's Division 4, which takes in Covina and parts of Glendora, West Covina, Baldwin Park and Bassett, Hawkins is being challenged by R. William Robinson, a former chemist with the state Air Resources Board.

Robinson, 37, who is self-employed as a purchasing agent, criticized the water district for opposing the South Coast Air Quality Management District's requirement for air pollution controls on air-stripping towers that remove pollutants from well water. Without the controls, Robinson said, pollutants will just be transferred from water to air. The air quality district has at least temporarily rescinded the requirement because of a suit filed by the water district.

In addition, Robinson accused the water board of being "passive and weak" in dealing with major issues. He said Hawkins, who has been on the board since the district was created, has had ample time to contribute ideas and now he would like a chance.

Hawkins said he offers the voters a wealth of experience in dealing with complex water issues. He was one of the organizers of the water district, has been its representative on the MWD board since 1963, and has served on a interstate board on use of the Colorado River.

He was on the Covina City Council for 15 years, including 10 as mayor, and is a member of the Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees.

Working With EPA

Hawkins said the water district is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated ground water. Progress is being made, he said, although EPA is moving more slowly than he would like.

At the age of 76, Hawkins said, "I still think I'm capable," and he noted that others apparently value his ability because he was recently named to the MWD board's executive committee. In addition to his civic positions, Hawkins operates a chemical fertilizer company in Glendora.

In the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, Johnson, who has been on the board since 1968, is being challenged by Joseph C. Reichenberger, a civil engineer, for a directorship that serves most of Monterey Park. Johnson is a former mayor and councilman in Monterey Park. Reichenberger's wife, Patricia, is on the council.

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