MONTEBELLO — Voters apparently reaffirmed their distaste for the use of eminent domain to redevelop the southern part of the city by electing to the City Council two strong opponents of the tool.
Incumbent Edward C. Pizzorno, 51, the only council member who voted last year against giving the city Redevelopment Agency condemnation powers in South Montebello, was the top vote-getter in Tuesday's election.
He will be joined on the council by William M. Molinari, a 50-year-old former councilman and opponent of eminent domain.
The third victor was incumbent Arnold M. Glasman, who voted with the council majority in 1988 to give the city Redevelopment Agency condemnation powers in South Montebello. Glasman, 36, outspent the other eight candidates, and made a pre-election pledge that he would not vote for eminent domain again as a councilman.
The eminent domain issue was key even though voters reversed the council's decision in a special election last May.
"I think a good share of the electorate understood that three votes on the council could have started it out all over again," Pizzorno said after winning reelection. "I think eminent domain is dead with the existing (elected) council."
Molinari said: "We still need to deal with the concern of improving our commercial and industrial areas, but eminent domain is not a tool we're going to use." Molinari helped form a citizens group called South Montebello Area Residents Together, whose members organized the successful referendum against eminent domain.
Glasman reaffirmed his pre-election pledge that he would not vote for eminent domain again. He said the eminent domain question had an "unfortunate" impact on the election by obscuring important issues, such as crime.
The councilman said he was forced to spend $33,977 on his campaign as of Oct. 22 to counteract the attacks by opponents of eminent domain. Pizzorno spent $9,765 and Molinari spent $3,372, according to their financial disclosure statements.
Glasman said his reelection indicated he was doing a good job even though his vote on eminent domain was unpopular. Glasman finished third behind Molinari.
"My position on eminent domain was quite clear," Glasman said. "Even with that position the community voted in favor of Arnold Glasman."
Eminent domain foe Larry Salazar, who owns a marketing management firm, finished fourth.
Candidates Betty Escobar and Joseph Coria, who supported eminent domain in last May's election, finished fifth and sixth, respectively. They lost despite spending more as of Oct. 21 than the other candidates except Glasman. Coria, a medical administrator, spent $22,344. Escobar, a judicial administrative assistant, spent $17,074.
Two political action committees contributed heavily to the pre-election dialogue in the Montebello council race.
A PAC called Citizens for a Safer Montebello put out several mailers attacking Molinari and Salazar in the week before the election. The PAC also put out mailers in support of Coria.
Citizens for a Safer Montebello was organized by Brad Perrin, president of Montebello Quiet Cannon Inc. The Tustin-based firm runs the Quiet Cannon restaurant and discotheque in Montebello. Perrin also is president of the Tustin-based Bear Tracks Corp., which provided the PAC with $20,000.
Molinari was the target of a similar barrage two years ago. Some of Perrin's business associates, including his father, David Perrin, formed a PAC and spent more than $15,000 on a potent mail blitz to defeat Molinari and former City Treasurer Thomas C. Wong in a 1987 election.
Molinari has sued David Perrin and others for libel in Los Angeles Superior Court for that campaign. The lawsuit is pending.
Molinari figures he first incurred the wrath of the Perrins for voting in 1987 against the expansion of the Quiet Cannon, which sits on city property. Molinari also opposed spending $1.1 million on a city parking lot to accommodate the expansion.
The councilman-elect said the attack from the Orange County businessman may actually have helped his campaign.
"This was the second election they did it and I don't think the community was going to allow it again," Molinari said. "Some outside group is trying to influence and control our City Council. (Montebello residents) want to be able to determine our own future."
Brad Perrin could not be reached for comment on his PAC's activities or on why it targeted Salazar.
Salazar joined with with Molinari and others to lead a campaign that urged voters to bar the city Redevelopment Agency from using eminent domain in South Montebello.
The eminent domain issue sharply divided Montebello activists.
Proponents of eminent domain argued that it was a necessary tool of last resort to enable the city to assemble land to attract new business and industry, tax revenue and jobs.