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Decision '93 / A Look at the Elections in Los Angeles County : Los Angeles City Council : 11TH DISTRICT : Newcomers Mount First Challenge to Braude in a Decade

April 11, 1993|JEFFREY L. RABIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER/ Compiled by Times Rsearcher CECILIA RASMUSSEN

This is a different kind of election for City Councilman Marvin Braude, who built a 28-year political career by being an environmentalist and leader in the city's slow-growth movement.

As he seeks his eighth term on the council, Braude, 72, who was unopposed in the last three elections, faces two challengers who are making their first forays into politics.

Although he is a heavy favorite, Braude is on the campaign trail, intermittently, for the first time in more than a decade.

His rivals do not fault the councilman's role in preserving parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains or leading the fight to stop Occidental Petroleum from drilling for oil in Pacific Palisades.

They accuse him of failing to address the most pressing concern in his affluent Westside and San Fernando Valley district: crime.

"Crime is clearly the most important issue facing Los Angeles today," said candidate Daniel W. Pritikin, a lawyer.

"Public safety has become public fear," said the other challenger, Brentwood restaurateur John B. Handal II. "We need police. We need safety."

Both remind audiences that Los Angeles is one of the most under-policed major cities in the country.

Chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, Braude is aware of the concern about crime and he talks about it in tough terms.

"The city's primary orientation has to be law and order," Braude said. "Without that we're not going to be much of a city."

He supports the ballot measure that calls for raising property taxes to hire 1,000 more police officers. "You can't do anything about crime without more police officers."

Pritikin and Handal oppose the measure, saying the tax increase would hurt homeowners and businesses.

They support leasing Los Angeles International Airport to a private operator and using the income to hire officers. Braude calls leasing LAX an embryonic "blue-sky" plan that has not been studied and is not possible.

The challengers also say that Braude and other city officials failed to plan for the riots that broke out in 1992.

Braude responds by criticizing the Police Department and former Police Chief Daryl F. Gates for "failing to act in a decisive way" when the riots erupted. He praises new Chief Willie L. Williams for efforts to prepare for any further disturbances.

And he reminds audiences about his role in the campaign to reform the Police Department in the wake of the Christopher Commission's findings about racism within the LAPD and the use of force.

The campaign took a new twist recently with the disclosure that Handal and his business have been in bankruptcy for the last two years and have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts, including unpaid state and federal taxes. Still, talk of crime and cops has dominated the discussion in the vast 11th District, which stretches from Palms to Pacific Palisades before crossing the Santa Monica Mountains to embrace the southwestern Valley from Van Nuys to Woodland Hills. All other issues, including how to deal with the city's massive budget problems and improve its troubled economy, seem secondary.

Braude said: "Who is going to create jobs and start new businesses when they feel unsafe about the city?" His opponents agree.

The emotion-charged issue of illegal immigration has come up at campaign forums. Handal wants the city to stop giving social services to illegal immigrants. Pritikin wants the state and federal governments to help Los Angeles pay for those services. Braude, when pressed on the question, adopts the hard line that "if they are illegal aliens, they ought to be stopped from coming across the border."

The question of term limits for city officials, which is on the April 20 ballot, divides the incumbent from the challengers.

Braude says it would be anti-democratic to deny the voters the right to choose anyone they want.

Handal and Pritikin say a two-term limit would force new leadership into City Hall.

Although Braude supported the city ethics reform that established limits on campaign contributions and spending, he lent his campaign $58,500 last month. Because the amount was more than $30,000, Braude became first council candidate to trigger the lifting of the $500 limit for contributions to his challengers.

The Candidates Marvin Braude, 72, was first elected to the council in 1965. He received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Chicago. He is married and has two children.

John B. Handal II, 39, is the owner of two Italian restaurants in Brentwood. He attended Loyola College in Baltimore. He is married and has two children.

Daniel W. Pritikin, 27, practices law with his family's law firm in Beverly Hills. He has an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He is single.

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