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43rd Assembly District

With Heavyweight Backing, Democrat Frommer, Republican Missakian Seek the Votes of a Diverse Electorate

October 08, 2000|BOB RECTOR | Bob Rector is opinion page editor for the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County editions of The Times

While the battle to represent the 43rd Assembly District is interesting on its own merits because it features two young, articulate and sophisticated candidates, there are issues just below the surface that make it particularly intriguing.

In the race, Democrat Dario Frommer is facing Republican Craig Missakian to represent the district, which includes parts of Glendale, Burbank, Toluca Lake, Los Feliz and Hollywood.

But behind the two candidates lurk a couple of Sacramento heavyweights who are putting power and prestige on the line.

Frommer is the former appointments secretary for Gov. Gray Davis and has the governor's endorsement in the race. Missakian, meanwhile, has the support of former Gov. George Deukmejian, who doesn't get involved in many races but was a political mentor for the candidate.

Beyond that, the two candidates represent ethnic groups that have sometimes been in conflict in the district. Frommer, a Latino, and Missakian, an Armenian American, both have vowed to work to ease tensions between the two communities, exacerbated when a Latino youth was killed, allegedly by Armenian gang members.

Both candidates are attorneys and both were raised in the district. The seat became open when Democrat Scott Wildman ran and lost in a state Senate primary.

The Times Valley Edition editorial board, as part of its series of interviews with candidates from select races about their views on the issues and about their campaigns, recently talked to Frommer and Missakian.

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Question: What do you offer the district that your opponent does not?

Answer: I think there are major differences between us. One area is experience. I've been a chief of staff to state Sen. Art Torres. Several years ago, I was appointment secretary to Gov. Gray Davis. I also worked for the governor when he was the state controller. In my private law practice, I've been an advocate for cities and local government in Sacramento. I think I have an understanding of how Sacramento works, and I think in an era of term limits, it gives me an enormous advantage to be able to go up there and hit the ground running. I also think I know the community, having grown up here, being a homeowner here, teaching at the local community college, being part of the local schools. I have a feel for what's happening. We have a lot of needs in this district. It's a district that I think has been neglected in some ways, not getting its fair share of money from Sacramento.

Q: Speaking of education, how do you stand on the school voucher issue? (Proposition 38 on the state ballot would authorize at least $4,000 per pupil for use in attending qualifying private and religious schools).

A: I'm opposed to Prop. 38. I don't think that school vouchers are the answer to our education problems. And I don't think that plan is workable.

Q: What are the solutions to our education problems?

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