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LOCAL ELECTIONS / L.A. MAYOR : Riordan Adds Supporters; Woo Keeps Up Attacks : Politics: Businessman wins black, Latino endorsements and plays up his Korean War service. Councilman hammers away at opponent's arrest record.

June 01, 1993|RICHARD SIMON and AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Preparing for the final, furious week of campaigning, Los Angeles mayoral candidate Richard Riordan picked up endorsements in the African-American and Latino communities Monday while rival Michael Woo continued to attack Riordan for his decades-old drunk-driving arrests.

Campaigning in South-Central Los Angeles with African-American attorney Stan Sanders at his side, Riordan received the backing of the Rev. E.V. Hill of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and Celes King, state chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality.

"There was a time, 20 years ago, in the struggle for freedom, we needed the symbolism of a black mayor," said Hill, referring to retiring Mayor Tom Bradley. "It was that time. . . . Now, we need a businessman."

"He has been visible in our community for years," said King, citing Riordan's millions of dollars in contributions to inner-city programs.

Referring to Woo mailers and TV ads attacking Riordan's membership in exclusive clubs, Riordan said: "Mr. Woo has tried, through thinly veiled messages, to make me look like a racist. By doing that he defines himself as a racist."

Riordan said that when he and Sanders were appointed to the city Recreation and Parks Commission, impoverished South-Central Los Angeles received only one-quarter as much parks funding as the Westside.

"Within a year or two, Stan and I were able to get the South-Central parks back to even," Riordan said. "But even was not equal because South-Central needed much more help than the Westside. And eventually, we got it beyond even."

Later, Riordan, a Korean War veteran, joined a key Latino supporter, City Councilman Richard Alatorre, at a Memorial Day ceremony staged by Latino veterans on the city's Eastside. The ceremony, part tribute to soldiers who died in combat and part rally for Riordan, also featured an endorsement of the candidate by state Assemblywoman Diane Martinez (D-Rosemead).

Riordan, who served as a field artillery lieutenant in the Korean War, said: "One thing the military does is it teaches you responsibility. I had 210 men in my battery. I had to grow up very quickly to be responsible for their feeding, their health and their safety. And that's what we need in L.A. is a leader who will take responsibility."

Al Rubalcava, a Vietnam veteran and LAPD sergeant who is a Riordan supporter, referred to Woo's application to become a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.

"I want you to remember one thing: You don't win wars and battles by being a conscientious objector or even a coward," Rubalcava said.

There was "no particular reason" that Councilman Woo did not include a Memorial Day event in his public schedule, according to campaign spokesman Garry South. Asked if Woo's opposition to the Vietnam War or his application to be a conscientious objector was a factor, South said: "Absolutely not."

Woo has said that when he asked his draft board to classify him as a conscientious objector, he offered to serve in Vietnam as long as he did not have to carry a gun. But he was never called.

During an appearance at the Jewish Home for the Aging in the San Fernando Valley, Woo sought to keep the spotlight on Riordan's two drunk-driving arrests and a third arrest for interfering with a police officer years ago.

"The time has come for Dick Riordan to come clean with the full truth about his criminal record," Woo said. Woo demanded that Riordan release all documents.

Riordan called the arrests a "non-issue" and rejected Woo's demand.

"The people are fed up with him talking about things that do not involve the problems of this city," Riordan said.

At the beginning of his speech at the veterans rally, Riordan delivered this response to Woo: "There is no cover-up. I've had three arrests. I've revealed that to the public, and the public now has to make up its mind about Dick Riordan."

He then said he would "only answer questions dealing with issues." None were asked.

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