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Decision '93 / A Look at the Elections in Los Angeles County : Los Angeles City Council : 13TH DISTRICT : Crowd Makes a Clear Victory Unlikely


In a wide-open race featuring a field of candidates as diverse as the district they hope to represent, eight people are running for City Council in District 13 north of downtown Los Angeles.

With so many contenders, political observers expect that no candidate will receive the majority vote needed for an outright victory.

By most accounts, the front-runners are two candidates with years in local politics. They are former Los Angeles school board member Jackie Goldberg and Tom LaBonge, a longtime aide to City Council President John Ferraro.

But they will be challenged by other strong campaigners for places in a June runoff.

Also considered to be contenders are Tom Riley, a onetime aide to former Assemblyman Mike Roos and the U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat Barbara Boxer; Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; television executive and former union organizer Conrado Terrazas, and businesswoman and community activist Virginia Johannessen.

Rounding out the field of candidates are executive marketing consultant Gilbert Carrasco and health care consultant Sal Genovese.

The district, stretching east from Hollywood to Glassell Park and including Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Eagle Rock, has about 232,000 residents. The population is 57% Latino, 21% Anglo, 19% Asian-American and 3% African-American. About 61% of those registered to vote are Anglo; 24% are Latino; 9% are African-American, and 6% are Asian-American.

The district has only 53,081 registered voters--one of the lowest totals in the city.

The candidacies of Goldberg, Terrazas and Weinstein mean that the election presents the possibility that the City Council will have its first openly homosexual member. The race is being closely watched by gay and lesbian rights activists.

Although the candidates reflect an array of political ideologies and diverse agendas, they generally agree that the 13th District has deteriorated in recent years. The candidates accuse Councilman Michael Woo, who is vacating the seat to run for mayor, of badly neglecting the district.

Goldberg says she is the best qualified candidate because as a former school board member she knows how to form political coalitions.

"The issues before us are really dramatic," she said at a recent candidates' debate. "We have to deal with housing. We have to deal with a shortfall of funds at City Hall. We have to deal with how services are delivered to make them . . . responsive to people. And I think we most of all have to look at what is happening to the children and youth of this city."

Central to Goldberg's political agenda are programs to provide jobs and recreation for teen-agers and young adults. Among the programs, which she says will help reduce delinquency and gang crimes, is a job corps to help rebuild city roads and other facilities.

"Right now we have a basin with 11.2% unemployment, and if we don't tackle the issues of jobs and the economy, we are not going to be able to change much about this society," she said.

LaBonge, the councilman aide, is the candidate who has been attacked most often in the race. In debate after debate, other candidates--particularly Riley--have challenged him to explain how he can reshape City Hall when he has been so long a part of it.

LaBonge has countered that he alone among the candidates knows how to navigate the bureaucracy to get things done, whether it is cleaning streets or building a consensus to tackle the city's budget crisis.

"This race . . . takes someone who knows how City Hall works and I know how it works," LaBonge said. "I know there need to be changes, but I know that on July 1, 1993, if I'm in office, I'm the guy who's going to be able to immediately respond to the . . . needs of all the people in this greatly diverse district."

With Goldberg and LaBonge tagged as front-runners, their statements and years in politics are often attacked by other candidates, especially Weinstein and Riley. Weinstein often criticizes Goldberg's proposals, and Riley tries to portray LaBonge as a status quo candidate.

Outlining his political agenda, Riley says he pins the city's financial future on small businesses that have 500 or fewer employees. And he says no economic plan will work unless city officials bring safety to the streets.

"I think that the people at City Hall have lost sight of some very basic priorities," Riley said. "And the No. 1 is public safety. People don't feel safe in this city.

"And when we talk about economic development, when we talk about all the great things we'd like to do in Los Angeles, until we address the fundamental fear in people's lives, we can't really talk about attracting businesses to Los Angeles."

Weinstein has experience with government as head of a nonprofit agency, but he routinely bashes City Hall.

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