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ELECTION ROUNDUP : Water Board Elections Grab Spotlight Among Local Political Races : Candidates: A record 30 people are vying for eight seats in three districts. Schools posts are also open.

November 03, 1994|DUKE HELFAND and EMILY ADAMS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Several lower-profile races in the Southeast area will be decided Tuesday as voters sort through dozens of candidates vying for seats on water districts and school boards.

So far, water board elections have attracted the most attention. A record 30 candidates are seeking eight seats in the Central Basin Municipal Water District, West Basin Municipal Water District and the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. The agencies store and distribute water throughout the Southeast area.

Incumbents and challengers alike wonder why so many candidates are running for the obscure posts. Some contenders appear to be true water buffs--engineers, environmentalists and others with a passion for water issues.

At least four of the candidates have ties to former Rep. Mervyn Dymally and are affiliated with the nonprofit Robert Smith Water Institute that Dymally created earlier this year.

Critics say Dymally is trying to stack the powerful water boards with his allies--including his son. Mark Dymally lists himself as president of the water institute and three other candidates--Charles M. Trevino, Joann S. Williams and Richard Mayer--list themselves as institute directors.

Mervyn Dymally acknowledges that the candidates are affiliated with the institute, but both he and his son deny that the organization is backing any candidate. Mark Dymally said the institute, as a nonprofit entity, is barred by state law from involvement in political activity.

Other local races and issues:

Compton Municipal Court Judge

This race between Compton Municipal Court Commissioners Thomas Townsend and Kelvin D. Filer has featured accusations that the city has attempted to interfere with Townsend's campaign.

In September, city officials notified Townsend that he would have to remove some of his campaign signs because they violated a municipal law prohibiting such advertisements on fences and street corners, among other places. Townsend took the city to court, saying officials were selectively enforcing the law against him, an allegation officials denied.

In the end, the city agreed not to enforce the law and Townsend agreed not to take any further legal action.

The Los Angeles County Bar Assn., whose rating is highly valued by judicial candidates, has rated Filer "well qualified" and Townsend "not qualified." A letter from the association's judicial evaluation committee said that Townsend's objectivity was in question and that the committee believed Townsend had preconceptions that could affect his judgment of the law. Townsend said the negative rating was the result of insider politics and his aggressive campaign against Filer.

Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District

Five people are vying in a special election to fill an empty Norwalk-La Mirada school board seat.

La Mirada businessman David H. Cosper was appointed to the board in June, but had to vacate the seat in July when a group of citizens successfully petitioned to hold a special election.

Cosper is running for the seat. The other candidates are Richard A. Blodgett, a Norwalk house painter; Jason Garber, a Norwalk salesman; Eliseo (Lee) Millen, a La Mirada teacher, and Kim Marie Geiger, a Norwalk homemaker.

The winner will fill the seat vacated last April by Jesse M. Luera, who resigned with more than three years left in his term, after he was elected to the Norwalk City Council.

Lowell Joint School District

Incumbents Janet Averill, Jerry Powell and Gayle Rogers and Whittier businessman Bob Sargent are vying for the three seats on the Lowell Joint School District board. The district serves Whittier and La Habra Heights in Los Angeles County, and La Habra in Orange County.

Long Beach Proposition D

Rarely have so few objected to spending so much in Long Beach.

Proposition D, a proposal to sell $48 million in bonds to make the city accessible to the disabled, has been endorsed by a City Council that has a history of distancing itself from measures that ask taxpayers for money. Last month, in fact, Mayor Beverly O'Neill and eight council members appeared en masse at a downtown march in favor of the measure.

This doesn't mean the bond measure is a shoo-in, however. Supporters need a two-thirds' vote to win. The Englander Group, a political consulting firm helping out the "Yes On D" campaign, conducted a 200-person telephone poll last month and found widespread support, but not enough, said consultant Peter Murphy. The poll found 53% would vote yes, 17% were opposed, and 29% were undecided.

The bond money would be spent to create wheelchair-accessible curbs, bus stops and buildings, to install a hydraulic lift at the Belmont Plaza Pool, and to purchase listening devices in City Council chambers, among other things.

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