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Zine's Runoff Opponent in 3rd Council District Contest Still Undecided


One day after the election, the Los Angeles City Council race in the southwest San Fernando Valley was still undecided.

But that didn't stop those hoping for a place in the June 5 runoff from staking out political turf.

Police union director Dennis Zine of West Hills was the leading vote-getter, garnering 26.94% of the ballots in the 3rd District. Judith Hirshberg received 21.80% of the votes, and Francine Oschin, 21.32%.

Hirshberg, a former council deputy, held a 164-vote lead over council deputy Oschin for the second spot on the runoff ballot with Zine, but the city clerk's office said there were about 1,000 ballots yet to be counted.

"I don't see her making up that many votes," said Hirshberg, who was already planning her runoff campaign.

Oschin declined to concede.

"I think until we have a final result, it is open," Oschin said. "But it does not look as positive as I hoped."

All three candidates attended the funeral of a mutual acquaintance Wednesday, but afterward the gloves came off.

Zine and Hirshberg each claimed to be more in tune with what the voters of the West Valley district want.

Hirshberg, an Encino resident, said she is encouraged that the district has a history of electing women who are Democrats, including incumbent Laura Chick and Joy Picus before her. Zine is a Republican; Hirshberg is a Democrat who was a deputy to former Councilman Marvin Braude.

"I personally think it's an advantage," she said. "This is a Democratic area. It's not a Republican district."

Zine downplayed party affiliation, noting that he is a labor leader and that the race is a nonpartisan contest. He pointed out that he had previously been elected from the district to serve on the city's Charter Reform Commission.

On issues including crime, education and city spending, Zine said West Valley voters tend to be conservative.

"I think the voters recognized my commitment, my contribution, my dedication and my leadership," Zine said.

He was greatly helped by strong support from fellow police officers. The Police Protective League spent $43,000 on independent mail and telephone campaigns for Zine.

"The people of the West Valley support the LAPD despite Rampart," he said.

Zine said he is more in step with voters in the district on issues, including Valley secession.

"I support the secession study," he said. "I'm the only one who signed the Valley VOTE petition. [Hirshberg] is adamantly opposed to secession. I have read the analysis, and if we can't turn government around to provide the services people want, I would support secession."

Hirshberg said she opposes secession. Oschin supports the secession study but has not yet taken a position on whether a new city should be created in the Valley.

If Oschin does not catch Hirshberg when the final votes are counted, she could play a key role in the runoff depending on whom she endorses.

Oschin said she has not thought yet about backing Zine or Hirshberg, but is still angry over a Zine mailer that included an ugly caricature of her.


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