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LOS ANGELES COUNTY ELECTIONS

Feuer, Delgadillo Head for Runoff

City attorney: Neither has majority. In controller's race, Chick is poised to be first female citywide official.

April 11, 2001|JEAN MERL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Councilman Mike Feuer and Deputy Mayor Rocky Delgadillo were headed for a June 5 runoff in the race to become Los Angeles' next city attorney, election returns showed Tuesday.

In the contest for city controller, Councilwoman Laura Chick appeared to be making history by becoming the first woman ever elected to a Los Angeles citywide office.

Two proposed charter changes were winning approval handily: Amendment 1, to change the way police officers are disciplined, and Amendment 2, to improve pension benefits for longtime police officers and firefighters.

In the city attorney's race, Feuer and Delgadillo were finishing comfortably ahead of Deputy Dist. Attys. Lea Purwin D'Agostino and Frank Tavelman.

Exit polls conducted by the Times Poll showed that Feuer did well among Jews, liberals, Democrats and older voters, and was strong in the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. Delgadillo drew support from Latinos, younger voters, conservatives, Republicans and voters in the southern parts of the city.

Feuer said he was pleased with the returns, even though he appeared to be facing a June 5 runoff instead of winning outright Tuesday.

"I'm very encouraged--things look positive," Feuer said.

Delgadillo, who had never run for office, said he was excited about the prospect of meeting Feuer in a runoff and promised to run a "good, positive campaign."

"I never expected this would be an easy race," Delgadillo said. "But I'm at my best in challenging situations."

In the controller's race, Chick was cruising to victory without a runoff, well ahead of business executive Laurette Healey and investment banker and author Mervin Evans.

"I am extremely thrilled and proud to be the one to open the door for the many good women I know will follow," Chick said.

Noting that the recently revised city charter gives the controller broader oversight authority, Chick said she is planning to use the office "to make the city work better and improve city services."

Although the city attorney's race did not come close to the mayor's race in terms of spending and media attention, the four-way contest to replace City Atty. James K. Hahn was nonetheless hard-fought. Annual salary for the post is $159,661.

Feuer, who entered the race two years ago and sewed up endorsements from across the political spectrum, had been widely perceived as the front-runner until Delgadillo nosed past him in fund-raising and picked up the vigorous backing of his popular boss, retiring Mayor Richard Riordan.

Throughout his campaign, Feuer stressed his council record and his background as a Harvard-educated attorney who ran a prominent legal aid program, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, before winning a 1995 special election to represent the 5th District, which includes parts of the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. Reelected in 1997, Feuer has spearheaded legislation to tighten city anti-corruption laws, strengthen gun controls and more closely regulate the billboard industry.

As city attorney, Feuer said, he would continue to push for protections for children, the elderly, neighborhoods and the environment.

Delgadillo, who grew up on Los Angeles' Eastside and earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from Columbia University, stressed his roots in the community and promised to push for safer and better schools and improved neighborhoods.

Delgadillo is Riordan's point man on economic development. He used his business contacts to amass a campaign treasury of more than $1 million, much of which he spent on television commercials featuring Riordan and basketball great Magic Johnson. An outdoor advertising firm, Eller Media Co., and Riordan made separate, outside expenditures on Delgadillo's behalf.

D'Agostino emphasized her crime-fighting experience and positioned herself as a City Hall outsider.

The race to become the next city controller, essentially the municipal bookkeeper and fiscal watchdog, quickly turned contentious, with Chick and Healey trading barbs on cable television and elsewhere.

Healey jumped into the race in January with the backing of Riordan, who has clashed with Chick. But Healey, who has headed several entertainment-related businesses, had a hard time finding a toehold against Chick, who got into the race almost two years ago, collecting endorsements and raising far more money than Healey.

Chick, who has represented parts of the San Fernando Valley, touted her eight-year council record of improving government efficiency and helping oversee public safety. Healey campaigned as a fiscally experienced outsider who could shake up City Hall in the $146,356-a-year controller's job.

The two successful charter amendments were backed by Riordan.

Amendment 1 would remove the statute of limitations on the time the Police Department has to take disciplinary action against an officer accused of misconduct. Currently, such action must be taken within one year after the filing of a disciplinary complaint. The measure also would give the police chief more control over what information arising from disciplinary actions becomes public.

Amendment 2 would restructure city police and fire pension payouts to encourage veteran officers to stay beyond 25 years instead of retiring and working elsewhere. The changes are designed to avoid extra cost to taxpayers.

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