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ELECTIONS / L.A. CITY COUNCIL : Reports of Racial Remarks Surface in 7th District Contest : Alarcon and Hall volunteers are alleged to have made minority-related accusations to voters. Both campaigns deny such comments.


The 7th District City Council race took on the appearance of mudslinging Tuesday amid allegations that volunteers for candidate Richard Alarcon told voters that opponent Lyle Hall is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Several residents of the northeast San Fernando Valley said Alarcon's campaign workers have told them that Hall, a former fire captain, belongs to the secretive white supremacy group.

Hall denied the allegations, and members of Alarcon's campaign staff said they knew nothing about the claims. "That type of politics is not what we want to bring to our community," Alarcon organizer Enrique Bela said.

But, Bela continued, he had heard that Hall's campaign workers were telling Anglo and black voters that "Mexicans are taking over the district."

The council district, which covers most of the northeast Valley, is about 70% Latino.

Both sides took pains to discount the notion that the remarks to voters were part of an organized effort to make race an issue in Tuesday's election.

"I prefer to think of it as some misguided and mixed-up volunteers," Hall said.

Nevertheless, the tactics disturbed residents.

Deborah Gilliam of North Hills said a man who identified himself as an Alarcon volunteer came to her door late Saturday afternoon.

"He said Hall was a liar and a klansman," Gilliam said. "He wasn't joking. He was very serious. He said Hall wouldn't do anything but hurt minorities if he was elected."

Former candidate LeRoy Chase, who has endorsed Hall, said such claims are far from the truth.

"In my dealing with Lyle, he is no klansman, no racist or anything like that," he said. "Whoever is passing a rumor like that, it's just dirty politics."

Bela said Alarcon "has worked all his life to bring people together. We definitely do not condone that type of politicking. It's unhealthy."

Bela said he would investigate the claims.

Another Alarcon organizer, Marcos Castaneda, speculated that the man passing himself off as an Alarcon volunteer could in fact be working for Hall.

"Anything is possible in politics, bud," he said.

For his part, Hall said his volunteers would not make racist remarks to voters. "I can guarantee that that information is totally inaccurate," Hall said. "We have not had a volunteer through here that would even consider saying something like that."

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