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Decision '92 : VOTING IN THE VALLEY / AN ELECTION GUIDE : ASSEMBLY / 38th DISTRICT : Boland Anticipates Easy Reelection Victory


Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills) has the advantages of money, incumbency and a well-booked schedule of personal appearances to secure her bid for reelection in the mostly Republican 38th District.

Democratic nominee Howard Cohen--who last spring launched his shoestring campaign with a news conference at his parents' house--is walking door to door for votes and hoping for a miracle.

Libertarian Party candidate Devin Cutler, 26, of Canoga Park is also running for the four-year seat.

Even with the state economy in shambles, housing prices falling and shrinking state support for public services such as education, Boland--a former real estate broker--said she expects to easily win reelection in the 38th District, which serves the northwest San Fernando Valley and the Ventura County cities of Simi Valley and Fillmore.

Republican registration is about 47%, compared to 40% of voters registered as Democrats. That difference would make a Democratic challenge difficult for even a well-known local personality and still worse for a political newcomer such as Cohen, political consultants say.

Add to that Boland's large financial advantage. Since spring, she has raised more than $100,000 to pay for campaign costs such as postage, literature and signs. Several more fund-raising events are scheduled before the Nov. 3 election, she said.

Cohen, 29, said he currently has about $1,500 in contributions and a stack of flyers to hand out while walking door to door. His trouble raising money from Democratic Party contributors stems largely from his lack of experience and contacts, party officials said.

"A candidate is viable if they have developed a network of supporters and contributors and some base in the community," said Bob Mulholland, political director of California's Democratic Party. "If someone is from a city council or a planning commission, people know you and are writing out checks."

Cohen said he has a chance at winning despite his disadvantages. He said Boland is vulnerable because she opposes abortion--except in cases of rape, incest and danger to the health of the mother. He said she is also vulnerable because voters are unhappy with the performance of the economy and the Legislature.

"I am doing this the hard way, just like the primary," said Cohen, who is currently unemployed and living with his parents in North Hills. "Nobody said I could win the primary."

Cohen defeated well-known defense attorney James Blatt in the June primary, despite being outspent nearly 5 to 1. He campaigned door-to-door and used a telephone bank manned by relatives.

Cohen cites as proof of Boland's vulnerability a California Journal survey published in its April issue. The survey--which polled legislators, political aides, Sacramento reporters and lobbyists--ranks Boland 75th among the state's 80 legislators in effectiveness and 77th in intelligence.

Boland said few voters take the publication's annual survey seriously. She said those responding to the survey are mostly Democrats.

Cohen said he favors a tax increase for the California residents in the top 1% income group and, like Boland and Cutler, favors reform of the state's workers' compensation system.

Boland, who ran unopposed in the June primary, was elected in November, 1990, following the retirement of former Assemblywoman Marian W. La Follette. She has a long record of Republican Party and community volunteer work. Boland sold her real estate business after being elected.

Boland retains close ties with Valley business owners. She said the state risks losing more businesses unless it reduces costs for workers' compensation insurance, streamlines the business licensing permit process and eases some environmental regulations.

Since being elected, Boland, 52, has authored a handful of laws, most dealing with crime. One increases the penalty to 94 hours of community service for those convicted of creating graffiti. Another extends an experimental, cost-saving program that allows criminals to enter guilty pleas in felony cases by closed-circuit television from jail.

Her most prized legislation--which would remove the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children--failed in September to pass into law. Boland said she will reintroduce the measure next year.

Boland has appointed an advisory committee to research breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation. La Follette conducted a similar study in the past, but breakup efforts have been stymied by the difficult logistics of dividing up students, debts and property. They have also been stymied by opposition by the teachers' union.

Cohen and Cutler said they also favor breaking up the 625,000-student district into smaller, more efficient districts.


Where: The district includes all of Castaic, Gorman, Granada Hills, Lake Hughes and Val Verde, and portions of Chatsworth, Mission Hills, North Hills, Northridge, Saugus and Sylmar in Los Angeles County, and the communities of Fillmore, Piru and Simi Valley in Ventura County. To find out if you live in the district, call the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder's office at (213) 721-1100.


Howard Cohen, Democrat, unemployed

Paula L. Boland, Republican, assemblywoman

Devin Cutler, Libertarian, business finance professional


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