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ELECTIONS / REDONDO BEACH : 54% Say 'No' on Advisory Measure to Carry Concealed Gun


Gun control advocates won a mostly symbolic victory in Redondo Beach Tuesday as voters defeated a controversial advisory measure that asked whether citizens should have the right to carry concealed weapons.

In addition, voters elected two City Council members and forced a runoff election in the city treasurer's race.

But it was Proposition E, which had no power to change state law, that sparked heated debate in the generally safe city over the last several weeks. The measure, believed to be the first of its kind in California, called for state legislators to ease restrictions on concealed weapon permits, which are difficult to obtain in most California jurisdictions.

Supporters of the measure argued that a well-armed citizenry is a deterrence to would-be criminals; opponents maintained that more guns would create more violence.

About 54% of voters cast ballots against the measure, prompting celebratory cheers Tuesday night from several Proposition E opponents, who watched in the City Council chambers as the final ballots were tallied.

"It says people are not ready to resort to guns," said Vanessa Poster, a member of the city's youth commission who led the campaign against Proposition E. "I think it's a vote to decrease the violence, not increase it."

Proposition E supporters, many donning buttons calling on citizens to pass the measure, said they were encouraged by the number of votes the measure received and vowed they would continue to lobby to ease gun control laws.

"It shows the people are waking up; they just need to be educated a little further," said Sal Princiotta, a former crime prevention commissioner in the city and a longtime gun advocate.

To get a concealed weapon permit, which is issued by a community's chief law enforcement officer, Californians must now demonstrate they have a dangerous job or a history of being stalked. Proposition E called for anyone who could pass a firearms safety course and not be deemed a public threat to be eligible.

Concern over violence has prompted similar debates across California. Although Redondo's measure was defeated, gun advocates said they believe public support to lift restrictions is mounting.

Two state lawmakers recently proposed laws to make it easier for citizens to carry weapons. And although city councils in Stockton and Fresno recently voted down proposals to dramatically ease restrictions on permits in those cities, Fresno's police chief recently vowed to issue more permits.

In the city treasurer's race, none of the three candidates for the $78,600-a-year post received a majority vote, forcing a May 16 runoff between the top vote-getters, incumbent Alice E. DeLong, the city treasurer for the last 20 years, and challenger Ernie O'Dell.

Despite charges over the last year that she has mismanaged the treasurer's department and come to work under the influence of alcohol, DeLong, 61, ran a low-key campaign, sending out only a single campaign mailing and eschewing candidates forums.

She has denied charges of mismanagement and, in December, filed a libel suit against city officials.

O'Dell, the city's Chamber of Commerce director, spent about $10,000 on campaign mailings and hundreds of yard signs. O'Dell vowed to campaign vigorously in the runoff.

"It's a matter of digging in and going for that extra yard," he said as he gathered with supporters at Legend's sports bar in Redondo Beach Tuesday night.

During the campaign, O'Dell, 51, argued that his experience as an employee relations representative in aerospace would help to resolve conflicts in the treasurer's department. He complained after the election that voters had not adequately researched the matter.

"They just voted for the incumbent," he said. "She has done a bad job on all levels of the office."

Challenger Armando Herrera, 51, who said he spent only his own money and canvassed nearly every neighborhood in the city, said he would endorse DeLong in the runoff. "She is fully qualified," he said.

DeLong could not be reached for comment. Write-in candidate Chris Boyle received only a handful of votes.

In the race for a council seat in District 3, which includes the south-central portion of the city, engineer Mike Gin, 32, won a decisive victory in a four-way race that many expected would end in a runoff. Term limits barred incumbent Stevan Colin from seeking reelection.

Gin supported loosening gun control laws. During his campaign he also said the council must cut costs and resolve ways to pay for an estimated $16 million in repairs needed to its aging sewer system.

"I'm excited," Gin said Tuesday night. "The first thing we have to work on is the big sewer problem. But I'm opposed to raising taxes to (make the repairs)."

In District 5, the northernmost section of Redondo, incumbent Marilyn White defeated challengers Kim Marie Lewis and Barry J. Brennan. Brennan, who underwent surgery recently, did not campaign.

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