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POLITICS : 8 Will Vie for Council Seats in Beverly Hills

March 06, 1994|G. JEANETTE AVENT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With Beverly Hills Mayor Maxwell Salter declining to seek another term, it is virtually certain that the City Council will have at least one new face after the April election.

The eight-person race for two seats includes only one incumbent, Robert K. Tanenbaum, who is seeking a third four-year term.

Salter declined to seek a third term, citing his belief that council members should be limited to two terms.

This week, the candidates will meet for what is considered the most influential in a series of forums before the April 12 election. The League of Women Voters of Beverly Hills will host the candidates Thursday at 7 p.m. at Beverly Hills High School. The Southwest Beverly Hills Homeowners Assn. will host a forum next week. Both will be broadcast on Century Cable's Channel 10.

Tanenbaum, first elected in 1986, is noted both for his courtroom-style oratory and his frequent sparring with council members. During his eight years in office, he has also been instrumental in developing public-safety programs, and frequently champions the interests of residential neighborhoods. A resident for 15 years, he was the lone council member to vote against the Industrial Area Plan, the city's guide for new business development near the civic center, which he asserted would increase traffic on residential streets.

MeraLee Goldman, a former planning commissioner, and Les Bronte, a former Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce president, are widely seen as the strongest challengers in the race because of their high name recognition. This is the first council campaign for both.

Goldman, a resident for 24 years, served two terms on the city's powerful Planning Commission. Bronte, a resident for 35 years, points to his participation in many sectors of the community, including the city's Traffic and Parking Commission and Caring for the Homeless Task Force as well as the Maple Center board and the 1993 School Bonds Steering Committee.

Former Councilman Bernard J. (Bernie) Hecht, who developed a CPR training program for the city, is seeking to return to office after his narrow defeat to Councilman Thomas S. Levyn in 1992. Hecht, the retired owner of a trucking and warehouse business, has lived in Beverly Hills for 33 years.

Candidates Mary Levin Cutler, Dr. Trisha Roth and Herm Shultz also have made previous but unsuccessful runs for the council.

Cutler, a 37-year resident, is vice president of the Beverly Hills Municipal League civic group. She frequently speaks to the council about overdevelopment and the increasing number of oversize mansions on city hillsides.

Roth, an 11-year resident, also has addressed the council on a regular basis about her public health agenda, which includes smoke-free workplaces.

Shultz, a resident for 25 years, is president of Concern for Tenants Rights of Beverly Hills, an advocacy group for the city's apartment dwellers. The retired furniture store owner has served on the city's Affordable Housing Committee.

Alan Robert Block, a 12-year resident, is a newcomer to City Hall affairs. The attorney has not served on city commissions, but points to his involvement in Beverly Hills schools among his qualifications for council.

Block, an attorney, drew attention in 1992 when he tried to intervene on behalf of two community groups in a court case that had been decided against the city. A developer had won a Superior Court decision allowing him to lease his Wilshire Boulevard building for medical offices. Block, who was representing Horace Mann Elementary School PTA and the 90211 Homeowner's Assn. on a volunteer basis, filed an unsuccessful appeal, arguing that the groups had not been notified of the suit despite their proximity to the building, and they had not had an opportunity to present their arguments about the traffic impact of a medical use.

No single issue is expected to galvanize voters. But candidates have spoken out against rising crime, traffic and the need to support the city's public schools.

At the forums, candidates are expected to hammer on the 15.4% increase in crime from 1992 to 1993. The city, which has 32,000 residents, recorded 2,825 crimes last year--377 more than in 1992. Theft of valuables from vehicles registered the biggest jump among crime categories, with a rise from 574 to 849 offenses reported.

The 130-member police force is the subject of an independent management audit authorized by the city last year to analyze the deployment of personnel and equipment. The department is one of several in the city undergoing a review to improve efficiency and save money.

Also high on the list of concerns for residents and candidates is the issue of preserving the quality of residential life. The impact of traffic and development on neighborhoods has been the focus of countless council meetings over the last two years, with residents demanding that the city combat commuter traffic through neighborhoods.

The Candidates

A look at the field competing for the Beverly Hills City Council:

NAME AGE OCCUPATION Alan Robert Block 47 Attorney Les Bronte 58 Business executive Mary Levin Cutler 60 Investor MeraLee Goldman 60 Planner Bernard J. Hecht 70 Retired business executive Trisha Roth 48 Pediatrician Herm Shultz 71 Retired business executive Robert K. Tanenbaum (i) 51 Trial lawyer

i: incumbent

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