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Political Rookies Point to Crime, Jobs as Priorities

The candidates for 6th district in a new Valley city lack experience but they share resolve in wanting to improve quality of life in the area.

October 25, 2002|Stephanie Stassel | Times Staff Writer

The half a dozen candidates for the 6th district seat of the proposed San Fernando Valley city council are making their first run for public office. The problems they want to solve -- gangs, graffiti, broken roads and a weak job market -- are more than enough to test a political rookie.

The district includes Panorama City and part of Arleta. The candidates have different ideas for reducing crime and increasing investment in the area, but all agree that creating a Valley city must be the first step. The winner of the race will take office only if voters approve Valley secession on the Nov. 5 ballot.

"What I want to do is run an efficient city. It's in my heart. I really want to do it," said Christopher C. Trujillo of Panorama City, whose next-door neighbor is also vying to represent the mostly Latino district.

Trujillo, who ran a 500-employee manufacturing company for 28 years, said his administrative experience is exactly what the district needs.

"I know how to make the bottom line, to be efficient with money," said Trujillo, 59, who now is a drug counselor with Family Harmony in Van Nuys.

He said a Valley city should work with businesses to bring more manufacturing jobs to the area. Trujillo also wants to lower utility costs for consumers and provide low-interest loans to help homeowners buy natural gas generators to conserve electricity.

His neighbor, James Stewart, advocates a broad program of low- or no-interest loans to residents and small business owners to clean up neighborhoods and restore buildings.

Stewart, a board member of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, also said he would allow fewer exemptions to the General Plan, the area's current blueprint for development.

He said land-use planning should begin with a determination of neighborhood needs.

"Figure out what [type of business] is needed, approve it and go out and get a developer," said Stewart, 51, a self-employed management consultant.

Irwin Silon, a longtime Arleta resident and retired print shop owner, said he would cut business taxes to attract companies to the district.

Silon, 72, one of the original members of the secession group Valley VOTE, said the district also needs more senior citizen centers and after-school programs.

And, he said, it shouldn't have taken 3 1/2 years to get a street light installed in his neighborhood.

The city is now "fixing up the streets and the potholes, but one way or another it will stop after the election," said Silon.

Candidate Noel S.V. Omega of Panorama City said he would make children a priority and push for safer parks and a public swimming pool open year-round. He also called for more community policing and improved trash collection.

"I feel I have the people skills and the background to deal with complex issues and get people together," said Omega, 42, a self-employed computer system consultant.

Arleta native Robert J. Edwards said the district's "people, places and problems have become nothing more than a file number" under the city of Los Angeles.

"I will work on streamlining and reconstituting the bureaucracy," said Edwards, 48, an independent environmental consultant. From 1995 to 1999, he led LEARN, a group focused on bringing reforms to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Edwards said Los Angeles has ignored the Valley's need for economic growth. He also said a Valley city should clean up the East Valley aquifer.

In addition, Edwards wants to overhaul the neighborhood council program to eliminate seats for businesses and other special interests.

Harold Alvord, 41, is also running for the district seat. The self-employed plumbing engineer said he would add police officers, increase penalties for graffiti vandals and speed up street and sidewalk repairs.

"I want to improve our way of life," said Alvord of Panorama City. "I want local government that is closer to the people."

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