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Victorious Holden Makes a Pledge on Own Terms : Elections: 10th District councilman promises to be more responsive to constituents during last tenure. But some residents remain skeptical.


Though he won a third term Tuesday, City Councilman Nate Holden said that being forced into a runoff with Stan Sanders was a sign that he needs to improve his relationship with residents of the 10th District.

Holden said that during door-to-door visits during the campaign, many residents told him they voted against him in the April primary and would vote against him again in the runoff because he didn't attend their block club meetings.

"I'm doing what they want me to do, but they get so upset and angry because I do not go to their meetings," said Holden, whose district includes parts of the Crenshaw District, West Adams and Koreatown.

Another hotly contested race was still too close to call. Marshall High School social studies teacher David N. Tokofsky and Eagle Rock High School parent volunteer and paid liaison Lucia D. Rivera finished nearly even in the race to represent Los Angeles school board District 5, which includes East Los Angeles and the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Holden defeated Sanders, a lawyer, by taking 54% of the vote, compared to Sanders' 46%, in a race devoid of the mudslinging of the primary. Candidates focused largely on their personal attributes.

Sanders credited Holden's win to "more manpower" from churches and labor unions.

But this was still Holden's toughest council campaign. He got nearly two-thirds of the vote in his 1987 runoff with former Bradley aide Homer Broome Jr. and received 72% of the vote in 1991.

Earlier in the week, Holden said he would fight council members who secretly backed Sanders by voting against their proposals, but said he will reach out to his constituents.

He said he will try to go to more block club meetings and will require his staff to attend more of the meetings. He said that there are more than 100 block clubs in his district, making it impossible to attend many of the meetings.

To keep constituents informed, Holden said he would also send more newsletters.

Other than attending more block club meetings, Holden did not mention other ways he might improve his performance in his third term, which he says will be his last. He said 10th District residents also need to better understand a councilman's role.

"They don't understand government. I can't do everything, though I always try my best," he said, adding that both he and residents "need to grow."

"I need to do my very best to get out there, and they need more education and outreach."

But Natalie Neith, a West Adams resident who voted for Sanders, said that she is doubtful that Holden can be more responsive since he and his deputies have ignored her neighborhood's requests to get potholes filled and street lights repaired.

"He doesn't know what's going on and I don't think he cares," she said. Neith, a member of the Western Heights Neighborhood Assn., also disagreed with Holden's assertion that voters blamed the councilman for problems beyond his control. "He's not giving his community credit. We're more savvy than he thinks."

Before the April primary election, Holden and Sanders engaged in a highly personal battle. Both men sent several attack mailers, with Holden assailing Sanders' business-related financial problems and Sanders accusing Holden of moving out of the district to Marina del Rey (Holden owns a condominium unit there, but said he lives in his Cochran Avenue house).

After the primary, in which neither was able to win the race by getting a majority of votes, Holden and Sanders said that their mudslinging helped turn voters toward third candidate Kevin Ross, who got 11% of the vote. That left Holden with 46% and Sanders with 43%.

Holden had said throughout the campaign that he would not run for another council term after this one. He said he hopes to lecture at colleges and work programs for youths when his term ends in 1999.

While Holden's 10th District win settled one of the most contentious City Council races, a hard-fought Los Angeles school board race is still unresolved. Tokofsky received only 26 more votes than Rivera.

Neither Rivera nor Tokofsky claimed victory in the race to succeed the retiring Leticia Quezada. Tokofsky would be the district's first non-Latino representative in 12 years, a prospect Eastside Latino politicos viewed with chagrin. The district's population is predominantly Latino, but fewer than half of the registered voters identify themselves as such.

Election officials said it will take at least a week to compile the final results, which according to law must be reported no later than June 20.

Absentee ballots as well as uncounted ballots cast by voters whose registration status was not verified Tuesday must be counted to decide the winner.


Election Results

Board of Education District 5 100% Precincts Reporting

Votes % David N. Tokofsky 11,042 50 Lucia V. Rivera 11,016 50

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