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SAN GABRIEL VALLEY ELECTIONS : Local Issues Decided at the Ballot Box

November 10, 1988

San Gabriel Valley voters Tuesday opted to continue the sale of "safe and sane" fireworks in Azusa and Temple City, defeated four of seven revenue measures in Azusa and decided to stop the practice of electing mayors in separate elections in South El Monte.

Those were among a number of local issues settled at the ballot box. Here are the unofficial results:

Alhambra Board of Education

Board President Phyllis J. Rutherford, Police Detective Stephen R. Perry and Alhambra City Councilman J. Parker Williams won three seats on the 5-member school board.

The unofficial returns from all 132 precincts showed Rutherford, in winning her second four-year term, led the field with 20,657 votes, or 21.7%.

Perry, a 25-year-old Alhambra detective in his first bid for elective office, took second place with 19,462 votes, or 20.5%. Williams, 51, was unable by law to run for a fourth term on the council. He polled 16,987 votes, or 17.9%, narrowly beating Ronald Hirosawa, an assistant principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District, who received 16,104 votes, or 16.9%.

Retired Los Angeles Police Officer John W. Gillis finished fifth with 14,498 votes, or 15.3%, and Robert K. Kwan, the president of the Chinese-American PTA of Southern California, came in last with 7,307 votes, or 7.7%

Alhambra resident Rutherford, a teacher with the county Office of Education, interpreted her first-place finish as a public affirmation of the board, which she says truly has become "the voice of the people."

Rutherford, Perry and Hirosawa had been endorsed by the teachers association of the school district, which serves Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Gabriel and Rosemead and has 71,985 registered voters.

Perry, of San Gabriel, said: "I can't wait to get working" and Williams said his serving on the board "is going to be great, just great."

Diamond Bar

Incumbents Paul V. Horcher and Cleve Holifield and newcomer Gary L. Neely were elected to Diamond Bar's Municipal Advisory Council.

In unofficial returns, top vote-getter Horcher received 7,518 votes, followed by Holifield with 5,742 votes. Neely, with 5,439 votes, edged out Gary G. Miller, who had 5,322 votes.

All three winners, elected to four-year terms, have said they will run for city council seats if Diamond Bar residents vote to incorporate in March.

The Municipal Advisory Council has been concerned with problems of increased development and traffic, particularly a proposed extension of Grand Avenue. "We have got to have some assurances that this project won't go through," Holifield said Wednesday.

Temple City

A ballot measure to ban all fireworks was narrowly defeated, 5,944 votes to 5,606.

Joseph Vainor, executive officer of the American Legion's San Gabriel Valley district, responded to the news with relief. About 30% of the legion's fund-raising revenue comes from the sale of fireworks, he said.

The city now allows "safe and sane" fireworks, which do not explode or leave the ground and are approved by the state fire marshal.

Mayor Mary Lou Swain said the vote would be the final word on the issue, which has been coming up every year.


Voters rejected four of seven revenue measures, although city officials had said the business community, and not the public, would pay the tab for them. Despite support from the local business community and the lack of any organized opposition, voters turned down an estimated $367,000 in potential revenue.

City officials estimate that the measures that passed, which includes increases in taxes on hazardous waste facilities, sanitary landfills and mining operations, will raise almost $1 million in new revenue for capital improvements.

"It puts us in much better shape than we were before," said City Manager Julio J. Fuentes.

Fuentes blamed voter apprehension about increased taxes for the defeat of measures that would have increased taxes on motel guests, business licenses, swap meet vendors and the Edwards Theaters. The city staff had been advised not to campaign for passage of any of the measures.

"Had we been able to do an avid campaign and provide as much information as possible, we might have had three out of the four," Fuentes asserted, noting that the theater tax, which lost by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, would not have passed in any event.

Azusa voters also expressed a preference for the continued sale of "safe and sane" fireworks within the city by passing an advisory measure 4,483 to 3,522. Going into the election, city officials had said they would consider banning all fireworks if the voters expressed that preference.

South El Monte

South El Monte voters approved a measure to end the 8-year practice of electing a mayor separate from the City Council. The new system, which will rotate the post of mayor among City Council members, will take effect in April of 1990. At that time, Mayor Al Perez, who was reelected in April for a two-year term, will become a councilman with his term extended to 1992.

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