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Democrats Endorse 2 Valley Candidates

Secession: Twenty of 111 hopefuls had sought the party's nod.


The Los Angeles County Democratic Party has endorsed only two candidates on the San Fernando Valley secession ballot, labeling the others it interviewed unqualified to run a large city.

About 20 of the 111 candidates for mayor and city council in the proposed Valley city sought the county Democratic Central Committee's backing, the party chairman said Wednesday. A Valley city would have 14 districts and a mayor.

The committee voted Tuesday night to endorse Scott Svonkin of Studio City in the 14th Council District and Ronald Clary of Canoga Park in the 9th District. Clary is an attorney and Svonkin is chief of staff to Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood).

"Out of the large number of candidates we interviewed, these two were the only ones that rose to the level the Democratic Party would judge to be competent and qualified to run the nation's sixth-largest city," chairman Eric Bauman said.

The committee did not endorse mayoral candidate Mel Wilson because he did not arrange an interview. That surprised some because he is considered the leading Democratic contender. Wilson said he still hopes to get the endorsement.

The party was in an odd position on the endorsements because it has taken a stand against secession. It also opposes the Hollywood secession measure on the same ballot and has declined to endorse any of the candidates for a Hollywood city council.

All the offices are nonpartisan.

Richard Close, chairman of the Valley VOTE secession group, said the Valley endorsements are a sign that Democratic officials believe the breakaway proposal might pass and are hedging their bets. "They did the right thing," Close said.

He noted that the Valley Democratic Party is opposed to secession and had refused to endorse any candidates.

Svonkin said the county party's nod is "huge" for his campaign, especially because few political groups have issued endorsements.

Clary said the Democrats' backing "probably gives me some credibility as a candidate."

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