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Canceled Elections Loom in Several Cities : Politics: No one has signed up to run against city council incumbents in Santa Fe Springs, La Mirada and Maywood.

February 08, 1990|TINA DAUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

City council elections in Santa Fe Springs and La Mirada may be canceled this spring for the first time because no one signed up to run against the incumbents.

In Maywood, municipal elections may be canceled for the second time since 1986 because the incumbents are unopposed.

City officials cite apathy, campaign expenses and the fear of challenging incumbents as reasons for the lack of candidates.

Seven unopposed incumbents in the three cities are expected to be appointed to another term. They are Al Fuentes and Ron Kernes in Santa Fe Springs; Wayne Rew, Art Leslie and Lou Piltz in La Mirada, and Rosemarie Busciglio and Thomas Engle of Maywood.

Maywood City Clerk Leonard Locher and Treasurer Michael Williams also are unopposed and are expected to be reappointed.

According to state code, city councils must hold a special meeting to cancel the election and appoint the incumbents 50 days before the April 10 election. The incumbents are allowed to vote at the meeting.

In the San Gabriel Valley, incumbents in Bradbury, the City of Industry and San Marino also are without opposition, giving those cities the option of canceling scheduled elections. In Long Beach, there are no challengers in two City Council districts.

"I think it (lack of challengers) is a result of public frustration for our political system," said Leslie, an incumbent in La Mirada. "Sure, I'm pleased I don't have to go through the . . . reelection. But I wonder if they are saying that they are disgusted in the way politicians in general are conducting themselves."

La Mirada City Manager Gary Sloan disagreed.

"I think people are looking at the council and saying that they are doing a great job," Sloan said. "If things were going wrong, this town would not be apathetic. They've proven that."

Santa Fe Springs City Manager Don Powell added: "People are generally pleased with what is going on here. If you don't have any issues to go after, the incumbents are hard to beat. You're just spinning your wheels."

Leslie said he thinks some potential candidates may have been discouraged by incumbents who have served many terms.

For example, in Santa Fe Springs, Fuentes has served on the council for 12 years. In La Mirada, Piltz and Rew both joined the council in 1978. And in Maywood, Busciglio has served for 12 years and Engle has served for almost nine.

Leslie, who has served one term on the La Mirada council, said two terms on the City Council is enough. He said he does not intend to run for reelection four years from now.

In 1986, Cerritos passed a referendum that limited the number of terms City Council members could hold to two consecutive terms. Two incumbents were eliminated from running in the April election because of the measure. Proponents of the measure argued that incumbents have too much of an advantage, discouraging others from running.

"People should seek to serve and then relinquish the reins of power," Leslie said.

Meanwhile, George Minnehan, one potential candidate in Santa Fe Springs, did not enter the race because he said he does not have enough money to run, a city official said. Some of the incumbents had expected to spend as much as $5,000 each on their campaigns.

Pat Quiles, 65, a retired administrator who was defeated each of the last three times he ran for Maywood City Council, said he had planned to run this time but decided to volunteer to help with several community organizations instead.

However, he called it a "shame" that no one was challenging the incumbents. "There is a lot of work to be done here," he said.

The cities of Maywood, La Mirada and Santa Fe Springs could save from $10,000 to $30,000 each by not holding an election, officials said.

UNOPPOSED CITY COUNCIL INCUMBENTS

Number of Name Terms Served LA MIRADA: Art Leslie 1 Lou Piltz 3 Wayne Rew 3 MAYWOOD: Rosemarie Busciglio 3 Thomas Engle* 2.2 SANTA FE SPRINGS: Al Fuentes 3 Ronald Kernes 1

*Appointed to fill unfinished four-year term, then elected twice. Source: City clerk's offices of the cities listed.

Times staff writer Tina Griego contributed to this story.

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