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Officials Vow to Fight Crime, Push for Jobs

April 25, 1993|GREG KRIKORIAN | This article was reported by Times staff writers Greg Krikorian, Robert J. Lopez, James Rainey and Lisa Richardson. It was written by Krikorian

In the wake of their reelection victories last week, Los Angeles City Council members Rita Walters and Mike Hernandez have pledged to redouble efforts at confronting the key issues of crime and unemployment in their districts.

But as they begin plans for new terms in office, veteran Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores has been forced to focus on a June runoff against a political newcomer--businessman Rudy Svorinich--in what could be the battle of her City Hall career.

Here is a brief recap of the three races for council seats representing much of Central Los Angeles:

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9th District--Two years ago, Walters won the seat by only 76 votes. And when her reelection campaign began, it was assumed she would again face a tough battle, particularly since one of her challengers was her 1991 opponent, longtime City Council aide Bob Gay.

But after generating some early sparks, this race settled into a tamer affair as it became apparent that Gay could not raise the funds needed to mount a high-profile campaign. Indeed, when campaign finance statements were released, his fund-raising totaled less than $100,000 and trailed both Walters and the third-place finisher, businessman Donald Lumpkin, who lent his own campaign most of its money.

In the end, Walters won 53% of the vote, compared with Gay's 32% and Lumpkin's 15%.

To hear Gay's campaign manager, Rick Taylor, tell it, the candidate's inability to raise much money doomed his chances of forcing Walters into a runoff. "It's very difficult to take on incumbents, especially when you don't have a significant amount of money to communicate your message," Taylor said. "She would be in a runoff if we spent another $10,000."

But Walters countered that she won not only because of her work for the district, but also because Gay suffered from his record as longtime chief deputy to her predecessor, the late Gilbert Lindsay. As she did during her campaign, Walters blamed many of the district's woes on what she portrays as Lindsay's years of neglect to all but Downtown business interests. The district extends from Chinatown to South-Central.

"Maybe people realize that Mr. Gay was part of the process that led to the neglect of the district," Walters said. "He should have been serving the community when Gil Lindsay couldn't get it done anymore."

In her next term, Walters said, she will focus on bringing the district both new economic development and better services.

"We are still working on things as basic as getting supermarkets and banks," she said. "That may sound funny to people in other parts of the city, but that's the reality."

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1st District--Hernandez coasted to reelection against two opponents who lacked the money and broad-based support for effective challenges. His opponents were Esther Castillo Long, a retired aide to Mayor Tom Bradley, and businessman Jean-Marie Durand.

"We ran a campaign based on our record. And it shows that if you do your work, you get elected," said a jubilant Hernandez, who won his first full term 19 months after winning an election for the seat vacated when Gloria Molina moved to the county Board of Supervisors.

In this race, Hernandez collected a host of endorsements and $150,000 in contributions--more than 10 times the total of both opponents. And he stressed the need for continuity in leadership, saying he had just begun to address the many needs of a district created from areas other council members did not want to represent.

The council carved out the district in 1986 to create a Latino majority stretching from Mt. Washington to Pico-Union. It includes some of the most crime-ridden, densely populated and impoverished neighborhoods in the city. Hernandez vowed to waste no time working on his top priorities: creating jobs and fighting crime.

However, he acknowledged that fighting crime would be more difficult because voters turned down a measure that would have raised taxes to provide 1,000 additional police officers.

He said the drop in crime during the final days of the federal trial stemming from the beating of Rodney G. King, when additional LAPD officers were on the streets, was evidence that more police can be an effective short-term measure to battle crime.

*

15th District--That Flores made the runoff in this district, stretching from Watts to San Pedro, was no surprise.

But that San Pedro businessman Svorinich triumphed over both Janice K. Hahn, daughter of former County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, and Warren Furutani, a member of the Los Angeles school board, was one of the district's biggest political surprises in years.

Still, it all makes perfect sense to Svorinich.

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