City Councilwoman Gloria Molina and state Sen. Art Torres have each pursued successful legislation to improve the quality of life for children, help the disadvantaged and protect residents from malathion spraying, their voting records show.
The records also show that the two liberal Democrats, who are vying for the job of 1st District supervisor in Tuesday's special election, have pursued separate legislative agendas that shed some light on the differences between the candidates.
Their track records provide some indication of the political directions each candidate is likely to take if elected to the five-member County Board of Supervisors.
Times staff writers Jill Stewart, Richard Simon and Hector Tobar examined the records of the two candidates.
State Sen. Art Torres has cited as his top accomplishments the Torres Felando Long-Term Care Act, a 1979 Medi-Cal reform bill that allows seniors to receive care at home, and a 1985 bill that he claims has prevented thousands of children from dropping out of school.
In 16 years as a state legislator, Torres has introduced a variety of bills, including one to permit the cooking of Peking duck in traditional Chinese style, another barring schools from beaming television programs with commercials into classrooms, and one to study transforming the concrete-lined Los Angeles River into a park.
He authored a law that cracks down on vicious dogs and co-authored the bill banning the sale of assault weapons in California.
Torres also has drafted a number of laws involving children.
As a state assemblyman, Torres sponsored a 1978 law raising the nutritional standards for public school lunches. In 1981, he authored a law to spend $2.25 million for handicapped children.
In the Senate, his 1989 bill provided $50 million for immigrant education, and another bill allowed sexual abuse victims under age 10 to offer court testimony via closed circuit TV. In 1988, he received the top rating from the California Teachers Assn.
His voting record is a generally liberal one.
In 1988, Torres received 100% ratings from Health Access of California, a consumer group that lobbies on behalf of the disadvantaged, and from the environmental California League of Conservation Voters. The California AFL-CIO gave him a 97% rating. Organized labor is a big contributor to his supervisorial campaign.
By contrast, Torres got a 20% rating from the California Chamber of Commerce and a 0% rating from the National Rifle Assn.
Torres is known in Sacramento as one of the Legislature's top orators and an active senator.
As chairman of the Senate Toxics and Public Safety Committee, he has pressed to crack down on disposal of toxic wastes and was an early opponent of malathion spraying.
Torres voted to ban smoking on commercial airline flights in California.
On another controversial issue--a private plan to build an unorthodox downtown Los Angeles landmark known as West Coast Gateway--Torres sponsored a bill to set aside airspace over a freeway for the project.
The huge steel-beamed structure was to be privately financed by a group led by Torres' longtime friend, Nikolas Patsaouras, and was supposed to rival New York's Statue of Liberty in scope. Torres' bill was vetoed by former Republican Gov. George Deukmejian. The landmark idea has been kept alive and it may still be built.
Numerous other legislative efforts by Torres have been defeated by the Legislature or vetoed.
Last fall, Deukmejian vetoed Torres' bill to require state universities to submit a plan to the Legislature on how to increase minority employment on the faculty and in the administration. The governor said the bill was not needed because such plans existed.
Although a campaign mailer boasts that Torres "started the campaign to eliminate graffiti . . . by banning the sale of spray paint to minors," his anti-graffiti bill actually was defeated.
His bill to create a state-owned airline, Golden State Air, to compete with other airlines was rejected by the Senate.
Torres was widely criticized by Los Angeles city officials for sponsoring a bill requiring installation of automatic sprinklers in high-rises--a bill that would have voided a far stricter Los Angeles law approved by the City Council.
Both bills were prompted by the 1988 inferno in the 62-story First Interstate Bank building. Several critics--including top Los Angeles fire officials--called Torres' bill a vehicle for special interests because it would have allowed building owners up to nine years to act. Torres said the bill was misunderstood because local officials would have retained authority over how long owners would have been given to install sprinklers.