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Decision '93 / A Look at the Elections in Los Angeles County : Los Angeles City Offices : Predecessors' Launch Pad Becomes Tuttle's Niche : Controller: A mainstay of Democratic politics is seeking reelection instead of seeking greener pastures. He faces challenges by two virtual unknowns.

April 11, 1993|JAMES RAINEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Recent history would suggest that after two terms in office, City Controller Rick Tuttle should be ready to move along.

Tuttle's two predecessors stayed four years each as keepers of the city's financial records before fleeing for greener political pastures. The controller's job launched Ira Reiner's successful campaigns for city attorney and district attorney and also helped put James K. Hahn in the city attorney's office.

But Tuttle said he is content to stay put and run for a third term against two virtual unknowns.

Tuttle, a mainstay of local Democratic politics for two decades, is expected to have little problem defeating Kahill Kahill, a Republican and engineer who previously ran for the County Board of Supervisors, and Kevin Jones, an aerospace factory worker and political novice who represents the Socialist Workers Party.

"I decided early on that I better make the best of this job because it may be the one that I continue to hold," said Tuttle, 53. "The controller's job is a crucial one in providing checks and balances in the city."

As watchdog over the city's income and spending, Tuttle has frequently clashed with city bureaucrats.

He rejected pricey dinner and travel tabs from officials at the Department of Water and Power and the Harbor Department, cut off payments on an ocean-monitoring ship that greatly exceeded cost estimates and recently succeeded in paring down trips by Mayor Tom Bradley's appointees.

Tuttle also has attempted to expand his influence beyond that of financial watchdog.

He helped draft a law banning private clubs from excluding women and minorities. He created a program to allow city employees to make child support payments through payroll deductions. And he joined in last year's successful ballot campaign that could allow the use of profits from Los Angeles International Airport to shore up city services.

In 1989, early into his second term, Tuttle took on Bradley.

The confrontations between the two centered on allegations that Bradley had improperly recommended that the city make deposits at Far East National Bank while he was serving as the bank's paid consultant and, in a separate matter, that a Bradley associate had misappropriated city funds.

Tuttle accused the mayor of interfering with an audit into the alleged misappropriation by Juanita St. John, head of the city's African trade task force. Another audit detailed conflicts in the recollections of Bradley and Far East Bank National Bank Chairman Henry Hwang.

Tuttle received high praise for the investigations from City Council President John Ferraro and others.

But the inquiries strained his relations with Bradley. Tuttle still recalls the conflicts with the mayor as "one of the toughest things I've had to do in my life."

Jones, 32, said he is challenging Tuttle to increase the city's spending on social services and education.

Like several other socialists on the municipal ballot, Jones said he will run his own campaign and will not raise substantial amounts of money.

The third candidate, Kahill (pronounced Kah-HEEL), said he would use his expertise in engineering and budgeting to straighten out the city's financial problems. A native of Egypt, he spelled his name Khalil when he ran for the Board of Supervisors in 1991. He says he changed the spelling to make it more manageable phonetically.

The Candidates Kevin Jones, aerospace factory worker

Kahill Kahill, engineer

Rick Tuttle, incumbent

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