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ELECTIONS / CITY COUNCIL : Candidates Make Final Push for Funding : Politics: Joy Picus loans her campaign $15,000. Raymond Magana's 7th District financial edge holds up.


Embroiled in the final days of her hotly contested reelection bid, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Joy Picus has pumped a $15,000 personal loan into her campaign treasury to maintain a slim fund-raising lead over challenger Laura Chick.

Meanwhile, in the crowded race to succeed Councilman Ernani Bernardi, Sylmar attorney Raymond J. Magana held on to the fund-raising lead he established early in the campaign, according to campaign finance reports filed with city officials Friday.

The reports showed that Picus had raised more than $32,000 from April 4 to 14, including the no-interest loan to her campaign, as she fought for reelection to the 3rd District seat in the southwestern San Fernando Valley she has held since 1977.

The reports also showed that Chick, a field deputy in Picus' office from 1988 to 1991, had raised $27,000 during the same 10-day period. Chick has steadily defied the conventional wisdom that challengers cannot compete financially against incumbents.

All told, Picus, who is seeking a fifth term in Tuesday's city election, had raised more than $208,000, of which $154,200 came from private contributors. The remaining $54,741 consisted of public matching funds.

Under the city's ethics law, public dollars can be obtained to match a limited amount of qualifying private contributions.

Chick had raised more than $195,800 as of April 14, including $138,100 in private donations and $57,715 in public matching money.

In 1989, when Picus last ran for reelection against five challengers, she outspent her foes by a 4-to-1 margin and won with 52% of the vote in the primary.

Bill Carrick, Picus' top political aide, said last week that he expected that Picus will be forced into a June 8 runoff election. Such a runoff would be required between the two top vote-getters if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote Tuesday.

Not included in the amounts disclosed on Chick's reports is a $4,800 expenditure made two weeks ago on her behalf by the political arm of the San Fernando Valley Board of Realtors.

The expenditure bought Chick prominent mention on a slate mailer that was apparently heavily financed by the real estate industry.

Carrick complained Friday that the real estate industry expenditure constituted "an end-run around the spirit of the city's ethics law."

City law prohibits any individual or group from contributing more than $500 to council candidates. But individuals or groups may spend any amount on behalf of a candidate as long as they do not coordinate their efforts with the candidate.

Chick on Thursday expressed gratitude for the help from the realtors' organization even as she said she was surprised to learn that she was benefiting from it.

Meanwhile, Dennis Zine, a Los Angeles police sergeant, on Friday reported raising almost $10,200 during the period, bringing his total to $38,900, including $16,800 in matching funds received.

Robert Gross, a Woodland Hills homeowner activist, raised $5,900, for a total of $16,300.

District 3 candidates Mort Diamond and Charles Nixon III had not filed finance disclosure reports as of Friday, the deadline for filing the last disclosure reports before Tuesday's election.

In the battle for Bernardi's 7th Council District seat, which represents the northeastern Valley, Magana maintained a lead in both the amount of campaign money raised and spent, according to finance reports.

A former Bernardi aide, Magana has spent more than $90,000 since last year in his attempt to win his ex-boss' seat. Bernardi, 81, jumped into the race for mayor this year after previously pledging to step down from his council seat, which he has held since 1961.

Seven candidates are struggling to succeed Bernardi in the heavily Latino district, and observers say a runoff election is almost certain.

Not far behind Magana in spending was Richard Alarcon, formerly Mayor Tom Bradley's top Valley aide. Alarcon spent nearly $81,000 since last year, although his campaign committee went nearly $30,000 into debt to do so.

According to finance reports, Magana raised more than $98,000 since last year. In second place was former produce wholesaler Al Dib, who had amassed an $87,000 war chest by April 14, according to the reports.

However, Dib loaned his campaign $25,000 from his own pocket, while Magana loaned no personal money to his.

Magana and Dib also led the pack in the amount of city matching funds they drew. Magana received nearly $32,000; Dib got $21,000.

City Fire Capt. Lyle Hall, an early favorite in the race, continued to lag in both fund raising and spending. He was fourth among the candidates in the amount of money raised and fifth in the amount spent. He also loaned his campaign a hefty $20,500 in personal funds.

Magana's campaign manager, Frank Negrete, said the pace of private donations to Magana's campaign has picked up in recent days as a result of attacks by Alarcon over disclosures that Magana falsely told voter registration officials in 1978 that he was born in California.

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