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ELECTIONS / VALLEY COUNCIL SEATS : Incumbents Dominate Challengers

April 22, 1993|JEFFREY L. RABIN and RON RUSSELL | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Sweeping past their challengers in Tuesday's elections, longtime Los Angeles City Councilmen Zev Yaroslavsky and Marvin Braude easily won four more years at City Hall.

Fueled by the power of the incumbency and a flood of special-interest campaign contributions, Yaroslavsky won a sixth term on the council and Braude an eighth term. Both council districts straddle the Santa Monica Mountains, including portions of the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. Yaroslavsky's district reaches into Sherman Oaks and North Hollywood, and Braude represents Tarzana and Encino and parts of Van Nuys and Woodland Hills.

Surrounded by scores of delighted supporters at his North Hollywood campaign headquarters late Tuesday, Yaroslavsky praised his staff and volunteers for his impressive victory.

"Our strategy was no mystery," he said. "We just campaigned like crazy. With 25% of the district new to me, we didn't take anything for granted."

Yaroslavsky, the powerful chairman of the council's Budget and Finance Committee, won almost 68% of the vote, compared to 26% for his chief rival, environmental activist Laura Lake. Mike Rosenberg, a city building inspector, had 6%.

Yaroslavsky, 44, said he plans to devote his efforts in the next four years to reducing crime, keeping the city's finances afloat and pushing for reform of the city's 1926 charter.

On the crime front, Yaroslavsky said he will promote a statewide initiative to enable voters to approve tax increases to hire police and fire personnel by a simple majority, rather than the two-thirds vote currently required.

"With the failure of Prop. 1, it's obvious we've got to make some changes (in the state law) if we are going to get serious about curbing crime," he said.

The ballot measure provided one of the few issues for debate between Yaroslavsky and Lake, who opposed it.

Lake garnered some endorsements from environmentalists and women's groups, and had hoped that Yaroslavsky's long incumbency would work in her favor. But Yaroslavsky drew support from a broad array of neighborhood leaders, environmentalists and political activists, and picked up an endorsement from the National Organization for Women.

Perhaps most significant, the veteran councilman raised five times as much money as his chief rival, much of it from special interests.

In the neighboring 11th Council District, Braude handily defeated two rivals. It was the first time in 12 years he had faced any opposition.

Final unofficial results show the veteran councilman pulled 61% of the vote.

West Los Angeles attorney Daniel W. Pritikin drew just less than 30% in his first foray into politics. Another political newcomer, Brentwood restaurateur John B. Handal II, ran a distant third with 9%.

Braude, 72, was upbeat on Wednesday morning. "It's just wonderful," he said. "I'm delighted with the outcome."

Like Yaroslavsky, if there was a disappointment on Election Day for Braude, it was the failure for the second time of a ballot measure to increase property taxes to pay for 1,000 more police officers.

Braude pleaded with voters to support the tax increase. He complained bitterly that a minority of voters are preventing the city from deploying more police officers on the street.

Braude joined in calling for changes in the property-tax slashing Proposition 13. "We have to change the state law that requires a two-thirds vote," he said. "The 170,000 people who voted no are holding a city of 3.5 million people hostage. . . . We are being strangled by a minority of people."

He was sharply critical of candidates--including his own opponents and mayoral front-runner Richard Riordan--who urged defeat of the tax increase for more police.

As chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, Braude said the challenge now will be preserving the Los Angeles Police Department at its current strength. He said any increase in the size of the police force is very unlikely given the city's severe budget problems.

After being elected eight times since 1965, Braude was also displeased with the voters' approval of term limits for council members. "I'm dismayed, but I'm not surprised that people can't find a better way to express their frustration than to pass term limits," he said.

There was never much doubt that Braude would dominate the campaign. He raised $199,143 in contributions, more than four times the total raised by Pritikin, his closest rival.

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