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A Crowded Field of Candidates Vie for Lynwood Council : Elections: 18 people, including incumbents, are seeking three seats. In contrast, Montebello has 4 candidates for 3 openings.


SOUTHEAST AREA — The battle for seats on the Lynwood City Council has attracted 18 candidates, including three incumbents, the city treasurer, the city clerk and a former councilman.

In Montebello, the race for three council seats is much quieter. Only three incumbents and one challenger are running.

The list of contenders for the Nov. 2 election in Lynwood includes Mayor Paul H. Richards II and council members Evelyn Wells and Armando Rea. Richards, 37, assistant city manager in Compton, is running for his third term. Wells, 46, a financial supervisor at Lynwood High School, and Rea, 34, a sheriff's deputy, are seeking their second terms.

The list of challengers is the longest in recent history, city officials said. They include a cross-section of former and current city employees, business owners and community activists.

City Treasurer Iris Pygatt, 59, and Andrea L. Hooper, 55, Lynwood's city clerk for 11 years, are trying to swap their elected posts for a council seat. Pygatt and Hooper said they will resign from their jobs if they win in November.

Two-term Councilman Robert Henning, 49, who narrowly lost his seat to Louis Byrd two years ago, also is running. The race has attracted a number of candidates who have run unsuccessfully for the council in past elections, including Margaret Araujo, 46, an aide at Lindbergh Elementary School; Alberto Montoya Penalber, 51, a former city planning commissioner; and Kent Swift, 31, a probation officer and vice president of the Compton College board.

Other candidates running for the council are Patricia Carr, 41, a county employee; retired businessman Lewis L. Dias, 53; city recreation assistant Mark Flores, 23; retired city building inspector Jack Anthony Keane, 65; KNBC television engineer William Lewis, 45; bookkeeper Ada McZeal, 39; motel owner Jim A. Morton; Shawn Omar Powell-Furillo, 27, a consultant; and businessman Arturo Reyes, 43.

Some challengers say the race is expected to revolve around two scandals that have rattled the city in the past year and a half.

In late 1991, the city lent $1.5 million to the Entrepreneurial Development Academy, a business development program that was later unable to account for its expenditures.

Earlier this year, several residents singled out Richards for criticism because he was aware that a businessman who received a large part of the city's loan had a criminal record.

Richards said he does not think his support for the program will hurt him in his reelection bid.

"A lot of people are satisfied with my record," he said.

The city also was hit by scandal in April, when Councilwoman Wells' husband, Donald Morris, was killed.

Morris was gunned down in front of the couple's home several days after he claimed that Wells was having an affair with City Manager Laurence H. Adams, who was later fired. Both denied the allegations.

Police arrested Samuel Baxter, a city employee, and charged him with Morris' murder. He faces a trial later this month.

Although authorities said neither Adams nor Wells were suspects in the killing, the City Council fired Adams to end the controversy over the allegations.

Wells was not available for comment, but Councilman Rea and several challengers contend that the controversy could affect the election.

"It's really on the public's mind. If it hadn't had that kind of effect, you wouldn't see 18 people running," said Henning, former councilman who now works as a supervisor for the state Employment Development Department.


The ballot is not so crowded in Montebello. Three at-large council seats are up for grabs in November, but only four people are running, including incumbents William M. Molinari, Edward C. Pizzorno and Arnold Alvarez-Glasman.

Pizzorno, 55, a hardware store owner, is running for his fourth term. Molinari, 54, an electrical contractor, and Alvarez-Glasman, 39, Pomona city attorney, are running for their third terms.

Council members said they will run on their record of keeping the city on stable financial ground at a time of economic turmoil elsewhere. The city imposed no layoffs and no new taxes in the last budget.

Alex E. Esquivel, 66, who retired as manager of the city's Human Services Department last year, is the only challenger in the race.

"I'm not really intimidated," Esquivel said. "The incumbents are going to run on what they've done. I think what they've done is good, but what I can do is better."

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