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7 Political Newcomers Seek Council Seat : Elections: Two minority women are among the candidates. The vacancy was created by the death of Ray T. Watson.

August 13, 1992|STEVE HIRANO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

WALNUT — Seven first-time candidates filed nomination papers for a Nov. 3 special election to fill the City Council vacancy created by Councilman Ray T. Watson's death.

The winner will serve the remaining three years of Watson's second four-year term, which expires Nov. 7, 1995. Watson died of a heart attack in June.

The field includes two women--an African-American and a Chinese-American--each hoping to become the first minority woman elected to the council.

Following are sketches of the seven candidates who filed their nomination papers by Friday's deadline:

* Ernest Aguilar, a 41-year-old manufacturing executive, served on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission for 3 1/2 years and also was a member of a citizens ad hoc finance committee.

The seven-year Walnut resident said his mission is to infuse "fresh blood" into the city's leadership, which he said has been dominated by older, longtime residents. "The younger people are the future of Walnut," he said. "We, the newer residents, have a different view of what the city should evolve into."

Aguilar is a member of St. Lorenzo Catholic Church, which sparked a controversy earlier this year by proposing an unusual architectural design for its new sanctuary and main facility at Lemon Avenue and Meadow Pass Road.

Aguilar said he disagrees with the Planning Commission, which characterized the design as incompatible with the city's rural atmosphere.

Said Aguilar: "I think the city should stay away from telling people how to build their religious buildings."

* Ronald Aames, a transportation planner for Orange County. Aames, has a Ph.D. in behavioral sciences. He said the city must do more to promote citizen involvement and suggested that focus groups and town hall meetings be used to assess the needs of residents.

* Karen Carr Crawford, the African-American candidate, is a 32-year-old crime analyst for the Hawthorne Police Department. She has served on the Walnut Community Cable Advisory Board since November and is a member of several community groups, including the Walnut African-American Network and the Cultural and Resource Exchange.

Crawford said her aim is to broaden the power base in the sedate bedroom community by increasing minority participation in local government. "We need to bring others into the fold," she said.

* Mei Mei Ho-Hilger, a 38-year-old accountant, immigrated to the United States in 1978 and moved to Walnut in 1989. She is vice president of the Chinese Business Assn. and director of the Pacific MBA Assn.

Ho-Hilger said she does not plan to tailor her campaign to the city's Asian-American population despite its growing numbers and influence.

"I'm out there to serve everybody, not just the Asian-American community," she said. "You cannot be narrow-minded."

* Jack Isett, a 51-year-old teacher at Walnut High School, targeted the city's financial health as his major concern. He said the city should be trying to create new sources of revenue, especially with potentially devastating funding cuts being threatened by state lawmakers.

Isett is a member of the Planning Commission that rejected St. Lorenzo's proposal during a study session in April. Isett, who was appointed to the Planning Commission in 1987, said he will reserve judgment on the church's design until final plans are submitted.

* Thomas Patrick King, a 44-year-old detective supervisor for the Los Angeles Police Department, emphasized the importance of retaining the city's combined "urban-rural environment."

"I'm in favor of more open space and less development," he said, adding that Walnut's abundance of recreational land is what attracted him to the city in 1988.

* Richard Saretsky, a 47-year-old right-of-way agent for Caltrans, echoed Isett's concerns about the city's fiscal security.

Saretsky, who has served on the city's cable advisory board for four years, added that Walnut must be vigilant in preventing gang activity from spilling into the city. He said city officials must promote gang-awareness and anti-drug programs in concert with local schools and law enforcement agencies.

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