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Voters Facing a Slate of 32 Candidates for 5 City Offices : Elections: A new mayor, two City Council members, a city treasurer, city clerk and city attorney are scheduled to be chosen April 20. If needed, runoffs will be held June 1.

March 07, 1993|TINA GRIEGO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COMPTON — The City Council meeting had just started. The cable television camera was rolling, the weekly proclamations were issued and then, like clockwork, they arrived. Kenneth Tucker stepped up to the podium and, with a couple of glances into the camera, fired off a round of questions. Yvonne Arceneaux demanded to know why the council wouldn't rent Rep. Walter R. Tucker III, the city's former mayor, an office in the transit center. At another meeting, Kellie Irving said she was glad a new education program is coming to the city, and Chuck Esters wanted to know what the noise was that woke him up at 1 a.m. Until recently, most of them had rarely appeared at a council meeting. For the next seven weeks, they and others will come, to ask questions and demand answers under the unwavering eye of the camera. Another campaign season has arrived in Compton. On April 20, this city of 35,000 eligible voters will be asked to elect a new mayor, two City Council members, a city treasurer, city clerk and city attorney. According to the final tally released by the city last week, 32 people are running for office--one of the largest groups in at least 10 years, said City Clerk Charles Davis, himself a candidate. The field includes many familiar faces--three current council members, two former council members who say no one has done the job as well as they did, sons and daughters of past city leaders hoping to carry on a tradition, and perennial candidates who say that this time they will win. Also running are several newcomers who are calling for an end to dynasties and business as usual. As one young candidate put it: "Vote for our future, not our past." All seats are elected at large, but City Council seats represent a particular district. Candidates must receive 50% plus one vote to win on April 20. If necessary, runoff elections will be held on June 1. The winners will take charge of a city still reeling from last spring's civil unrest. Many buildings still lie in rubble, stores have yet to reopen, joblessness is chronic. And the city, where two police officers recently were shot to death, must contend with what many residents have said is an undeserved national reputation as a gangland ghetto. Several issues have already emerged, but perhaps the hottest is the City Council's recent decision to approve a vast entertainment complex, including a card casino. Council members Omar Bradley, Bernice Woods and Jane D. Robbins, who passed the measure, argued that the city needs the money, but many residents were outraged that Compton leaders refused to place the issue on a ballot. Like past elections, this one is expected to be expensive and hard-fought, particularly among the candidates vying for the mayor's seat--left vacant when Tucker was elected to Congress. The campaign started with a bang when Tucker backed his brother, Kenneth, 29. The announcement shocked Councilwoman Patricia A. Moore, who said Tucker had promised her his endorsement. Although Walter Tucker and Moore were once political enemies, during Tucker's congressional campaign they blazed the campaign trail together--appearing side-by-side at churches, in newspaper photos and press conferences. But Tucker said that although he and Moore had resolved their past differences, he never promised to back her for mayor. Moore's recent comments at the funeral of one of two slain Compton police officers also are sure to become campaign fodder. At the funeral, attended by hundreds of police officers, Moore implied that police and prosecutors were responsible for the incarceration of hundreds of innocent African-American men. Her colleagues on the council, including Bradley, one of her chief rivals in the race, have called for Moore to make a public apology. She has refused. Here is a brief look at the candidates:

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