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Decision '93 / A Look at the Elections in Los Angeles County : Decision Time for Voters in Pomona, Compton, Pasadena and Arcadia : Other City Elections

April 11, 1993|MIKE WARD and TINA GRIEGO | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Los Angeles is not the only city holding an election April 20.

Pomona voters will elect a Latino mayor for the first time.

Compton voters will decide whether controversial Councilwoman Patricia Moore or someone else should lead the city.

And school board seats will be filled in two San Gabriel Valley districts.

Pomona

City Councilman Tomas Ursua and Planning Commissioner Eddie Cortez qualified for a runoff by leading a field of eight mayoral candidates in the March 2 election.

Both are Latinos running in a city where Latinos emerged as the majority ethnic group in the 1990 census, with 51% of the population.

The winner will not only become the first Latino mayor of Pomona but also will give the seven-member City Council a Latino majority of four for the first time.

The runoff has been largely a polite debate over experience and government organization. That is a bit unusual in Pomona, where local political campaigns have often been bitterly fought and filled with vituperative rhetoric.

Ursua, 37, who builds small-scale housing projects, says that taxes are too high, the bureaucracy is oversized and the city's spending priorities are skewed.

His prescription is to streamline government. Instead of hiring more police officers, he would enlist volunteers to patrol communities. Instead of raising taxes, he would force government to operate within its means.

Ursua says the city should be spending more only on youth sports and learning centers.

He says the city could save money by contracting with the county for fire protection.

That stand has earned him the support of the Pomona firefighters union, whose members would prefer to work for the county. The city is negotiating an agreement with the county.

Cortez, 52, a service station owner, opposes the proposed fire merger, which he said would save money only by reducing services.

He has the endorsement of the Pomona City Employees Assn., which represents blue-collar and clerical employees.

Cortez says that taxes are too high, that the city should ease its regulations on businesses and that staff reductions may be possible.

But he says a council decision to close City Hall and the city library on Fridays to shorten the workweek has produced savings that are illusory because employees are doing less work for the same pay. And he says the closings have inconvenienced the public.

Cortez emphasizes his involvement in community activities, from serving as president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce to being a coach and president in youth sports leagues.

Ursua cites his education, including graduate work in urban planning at UCLA, and his four years on the council, which he says should be a prerequisite to serving as mayor.

Arcadia

Voters will elect two school board members.

Incumbents Mary E. Dougherty and Joann E. Steinmeier are running for reelection against Debbie Ewing, a high school teacher.

Voters in the district will also be asked to approve a $28-million bond issue that was supported by 65.8% of the voters in September, just missing the required two-thirds majority.

The money is for general repairs to schools in the 8,000-student district.

Compton

The council's approval of a card casino and Moore's fiery anti-Establishment rhetoric, including her statements at the funeral of one of two slain police officers, have ignited a lively campaign.

The City Council voted to grant a card casino license last fall without submitting the issue to a vote of the people--a decision that angered some residents.

Moore, who did not vote on the casino issue, has been the target of criticism for her foot-stomping speech at Officer Kevin Michael Burrell's funeral in February.

In front of hundreds of police officers, Moore among other things criticized the beating of Rodney G. King by Los Angeles policemen.

Burrell's father has publicly apologized to law enforcement for allowing Moore to speak, and her colleagues have censured her.

The councilwoman is expected to get a tough fight for mayor from Councilman Omar Bradley and engineer Kenneth Tucker.

Bradley has been lining up the support of key community groups and business leaders.

Tucker is the son of late Compton Mayor Walter R. Tucker II and the brother of former Mayor Walter R. Tucker III, who was elected to Congress in November, leaving the seat open.

Voters also will elect two council members, a treasurer, a city clerk and a city attorney.

Pasadena

A runoff in the Pasadena Unified School District will decide whether school board member Wilbert Smith earns a second term in a campaign against former Sierra Madre Mayor Lisa Fowler.

Fowler outpolled Smith in a primary but fell short of a majority in a three-candidate race.

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