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Politically Changing Valley

November 12, 2000

Politically, the San Fernando Valley has long been known for its conservatism, whether opposing school busing, supporting the Proposition 13 tax revolt or reveling in the Reagan Revolution.

But a look at how the Valley voted in last week's general election could signal that this reputation may be due a revision.


* Voters in the four Los Angeles City Council districts situated entirely in the Valley--the 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 12th--favored Democrat Al Gore for president by larger margins than voters statewide, according to tallies released by the county registrar of voters.

* Two out of three traditionally tax-averse Valley voters supported Proposition F, a citywide bond measure to upgrade fire stations and animal shelters. They approved the measure in spite of arguments by Valley secessionists that it could "complicate" efforts to split the Valley off from the rest of Los Angeles.

* Valley voters also supported--albeit much more narrowly--state Proposition 39, which lowers the threshold for approving local school bond measures to 55% of the vote rather than two-thirds.

* And Valley voters from east to west elected Democrats to represent them in Congress and in the state Senate and Assembly.

The Valley overwhelmingly voted to return Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) and Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar) to Sacramento, and sent Assembly member Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) on to the state Senate.

They chose state Sen. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) over the incumbent Republican, Rep. James E. Rogan, in the 27th Congressional District, the most expensive race in the country. Assemblyman Jack Scott (D-Altadena) won over Republican Paul Zee in the 21st state Senate District, Schiff's old seat.

Democrat Fran Pavley won handily over Republican Jayne Murphy Shapiro in the West Valley's 41st Assembly District. Democrat Dario Frommer defeated Republican Craig Missakian in the hotly contested 43rd Assembly District of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, once considered a Republican stronghold. And in the 44th Assembly District, Democrat Carol Liu trounced Republican Susan Carpenter McMillan, a former spokeswoman for Paula Jones, meaning that Valley voters rejected both candidates (Rogan was a House prosecutor) involved in President Clinton's impeachment.

No one is exactly calling the Valley a hotbed of liberalism. But these election results do signal that the Valley is changing. Younger people are taking jobs in the ever-growing entertainment industry. More immigrants, especially Latinos, are registering to vote. Democrats now make up 49.3% of Valley voters. Republican registration has dropped to 31.6%, and another 19.1% either favor a third party or declined to state any party affiliation.

Last week's election may well be a preview of the changing Valley that will be revealed in the 2000 census.

But also consider it one more reason to view the Valley not as the old, stereotypically homogenous suburb, but as a work in progress, an evolving piece of a dynamic city and region.

No one is calling the Valley a hotbed of liberalism. But last week's election results signal that its reputation as a bastion of conservatism may be due a revision.

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