The public knows him as a pitchman for fresh produce and quality meats, urging consumers to use double coupons and search his stores for "more buys."
But some Republican activists thought that William S. Davila, president of the Vons supermarket chain, might do as good a job selling himself--as a candidate for the 1st District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
There was plenty of gossip in GOP circles last week about the possibility of drafting Davila, who lives in Arcadia, to fill the post being vacated by retiring Supervisor Pete Schabarum. But when filing for the Jan. 22 special election closed at the end of the week, Davila was not among the race's nine candidates.
Davila, 59, said he heard the rumors, too, but that party officials never formally approached him to discuss the possibility of his candidacy. And even if they had, he said he would have left them disappointed.
"I don't have any time at this point" to run for office, Davila said. "I'm too involved in my work at Vons."
Davila, who is planning to retire in early 1992, said he might be more amenable to a political career once he leaves Vons.
"I could become interested in it later," Davila said. "I would like to talk to somebody about it . . . I just might do it."
Davila and other Vons officials denied rumors earlier this year that he is being pushed out of his job. They insisted that Davila, who spent nearly 40 years working his way up from floor sweeper to the executive suite, is retiring voluntarily and wants to expand his role in Los Angeles' Latino community.
He said he has not focused his aspirations on a particular political post.
Davila backers, who asked to remain anonymous, said their man could have made a strong supervisorial candidate for several reasons: his commercials for Vons make him highly recognizable to voters; he is Latino in a district that was drawn in a federal voting rights case to include a majority of Latino registered voters; and his business connections would make him a potent fund-raiser.
Only one Republican, former Schabarum aide Sarah Flores, is among the four major candidates for supervisor.
State Sen. Charles M. Calderon (D-Whittier), Los Angeles City Councilwoman Gloria Molina, state Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) and five lesser-known candidates also filed to represent the district, which stretches from El Sereno and Lincoln Heights east to Irwindale and La Puente and southeast to Santa Fe Springs.
If none of the candidates receives more than 50% of the vote in the Jan. 22 election, the two top finishers will meet in a Feb. 19 runoff.