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Sparks Fly at Forum for Foes in 2nd District

November 15, 2001|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The contest for the Los Angeles City Council's 2nd District sparked some fireworks Wednesday when entertainment executive Wendy Greuel and Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar) clashed over San Fernando Valley secession and development of Ventura Boulevard.

Flush with campaign cash and influential endorsements, the two candidates are competing to fill the East Valley council seat left vacant by the Oct. 1 resignation of Councilman Joel Wachs, who took a job heading an arts foundation in New York City.

With the Dec. 11 special election less than a month away, Cardenas and Greuel drew a sparse crowd of 30 people to the forum sponsored by the Studio City Residents Assn. The event was held at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City. The third candidate in the race, Van Nuys businessman James Cordaro, also participated.

Greuel, a Van Nuys resident and executive with DreamWorks SKG, said she is awaiting a study on the financial effects of secession before taking a position.

"I love the city; I was born and raised here and hope we can keep the city together," Greuel said. "But the bottom line is, the San Fernando Valley hasn't received its fair share."

Cardenas, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1996, said he opposes secession.

"We have been bringing resources to the city," said Cardenas, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee.

Both said, however, they support putting the question of secession before the voters.

Cardenas denied Greuel's charges that he has changed his position on the issue based on who he is addressing.

Asked about blighted conditions on Ventura Boulevard intersections of Studio City, the candidates offered different approaches to making the street more attractive.

Cardenas said Los Angeles' Targeted Neighborhood Initiative program, which is funded with federal money, should be used to spruce up the boulevard.

Cordaro said he is opposed to the Community Redevelopment Agency being involved because it diverts taxes from other services.

Cordaro and Greuel agreed that more funding is needed. Greuel also called for a moratorium on auto-related businesses opening on the boulevard.

"We need to ensure that we no longer allow auto body shops and car sales on this part of the boulevard and that we have businesses that bring in pedestrian traffic," Greuel said.

Both were asked about campaign contributions from special-interest groups. Cardenas responded that he is proud of money he has received from Indian tribes.

Greuel was asked about the large number of donations she's received from the entertainment industry. She said special-interest groups would not influence her decisions and added she has received contributions from a cross-section of the community.

If no candidate wins a majority of the vote Dec. 11, a runoff election between the top two vote-getters will be held March 5.

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