DOWNEY — Former Planning Commissioner Bob Brazelton weathered criticism that he was just one of City Hall's good old boys to win a council seat against Steve Pentoney in Tuesday's election.
Brazelton, who served nearly eight years as a planner, entered the race a clear favorite. But Pentoney's campaign appeared to pick up steam in the weeks before the election. He promoted himself as an independent candidate who owed no political favors.
But Brazelton's reputation as a longtime civic leader, coupled with endorsements from lame-duck Councilman Randall R. Barb and other local politicians, gave him a 7% margin of victory, 2,264 votes to Pentoney's 1,962.
"I feel I won this election because of my greater involvement in the community over the past 30 years," Brazelton said.
Pentoney said his inability to match Brazelton's fund raising was critical. As of May 19, Brazelton had raised $15,014 and Pentoney $6,450, according to campaign disclosures.
"The campaign was (run by) a grass-roots group with a limited budget," Pentoney said.
Brazelton and Councilman Roy L. Paul, who ran unopposed for reelection, will be sworn in July 3.
The race between Brazelton and Pentoney for the city's District 4 seat was set up when Barb, a two-term councilman, decided to retire for family and business reasons.
District 4 runs north of Firestone Boulevard and east of Downey Avenue. It includes some of Downey's most affluent residential neighborhoods.
There were no heated issues in the campaign. Both men, for example, called for continued redevelopment in the city and for more police and other community services.
Brazelton and Pentoney are lawyers with considerable business experience, and both are longtime Downey residents who raised families there.
Brazelton, 60, was better known because he was a member of the Planning Commission from October, 1982, until last January. He also worked with the local YMCA and Camp Fire groups, among other organizations.
Pentoney, 51, has been involved in local school and youth activities, such as Girl Scouts.
The relatively cordial campaign turned a bit nasty in the final days. Pentoney fired first, calling Brazelton an extension of Barb, who some critics say has favored well-connected constituents. Barb was criticized last year, for example, for strongly pushing the appointment of a friend, D. Clayton Mayes, as police chief.
Brazelton, who was Barb's campaign treasurer, denied the allegation, saying that he would be an independent thinker if elected.
Pentoney also pointed out that Brazelton had to abstain from Planning Commission decisions because his law firm has represented residents before the city and because he owns a 5% interest in a building in a city redevelopment zone.
Pentoney said residents should elect a councilman who can vote all the time. He said that he has no business interests in the city and that the only property he owns in Downey is his home.
Brazelton acknowledged that he has abstained from several Planning Commission decisions. But he said there should be no need to abstain as a councilman. He said that he has persuaded the partners in his law firm not to take clients dealing with the city and that he is selling his interest in the local building.
As a result of his campaign stressing his independence, Pentoney won a key endorsement from the Downey Police Officers Assn.
Residents of about 6,000 households found a flyer from Brazelton on their doors Monday morning. Among other things, it said Pentoney is being investigated by the state Fair Political Practices Commission for "allegedly attempting to secret (hide) the names of financial backers" who paid for political mailers.
Pentoney denied the allegation. An FPPC spokeswoman said a complaint had been lodged on May 11.
"All my political mail was created in my den on my computer and was mailed by my committee."
Brazelton's campaign manager, Joe Lumsdaine, savored the victory.
"It doesn't surprise me that the race was this close," Lumsdaine said. "They had a very formidable political machine. We thought they'd give us a good fight, and they did."
Community correspondent Suzan Schill contributed to this story.