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Parks and Villaraigosa Win Races

March 05, 2003|Matea Gold and Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writers

Former Police Chief Bernard C. Parks won his bid to join the Los Angeles City Council Tuesday night, while former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa defeated Councilman Nick Pacheco in their hard-fought race to represent the Eastside council district.

"They shot some of the ugliest ads and attacks the city has seen," Villaraigosa told supporters about 11 p.m. "I will say this: I am proud of my wife and my family and my friends who stand up here. It is because of them that we were victorious today."

With voter turnout citywide nearing a record low, council aide Deron Williams and former legislative deputy Martin Ludlow appeared headed to a runoff in the mid-city's crowded 10th District race. A runoff also appeared likely in the San Fernando Valley's 12th District, where council aide Greig Smith, school board member Julie Korenstein and former Assemblywoman Paula Boland were the top vote-getters.

Meanwhile, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan suffered a setback in his efforts to maintain influence over the makeup of the Los Angeles school board. Board President Caprice Young, who was supported by Riordan and billionaire Eli Broad, was trailing former teacher Jon Lauritzen; one other Riordan-backed incumbent school board member, Genethia Hudley-Hayes, was locked in a tight race.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday March 06, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 50 words Type of Material: Correction
Council districts -- An article Wednesday about Los Angeles City Council elections incorrectly reported that council districts are bigger than congressional districts. City Council members represent about 240,000 people, while the smallest congressional district includes about 495,000.

Teachers union president John Perez was happy with early results. "There is a group headed by Eli Broad and Dick Riordan that has tried to buy the school board. I think there are people who say the school board is not for sale. I think that came out loud and clear," he said.

The council's new makeup, partly sealed by Tuesday's returns but with some races still to be decided in runoffs on May 20, will represent a significant shift at City Hall. New representatives will replace three of the council's senior members, forced from office by term limits, and Parks, who served for more than 30 years at the LAPD, will return to public life. Those council members take on powerful positions: Each of the 15 council members oversees a district of more than 240,000 residents, bigger than most congressional seats.

Bouncing back from his forced departure from the LAPD a year ago, Parks addressed supporters from his South Los Angeles district just before 10 p.m., surrounded by family members, including his wife, whom he credited for his run.

"The campaign showed that not one person can tell you what you can do with your future," Parks said, in an apparent reference to Mayor James K. Hahn's refusal to back him for a second term as chief.

In the 10th District, Williams said the returns signaled the voters' confidence in his work as a council field deputy.

"Obviously, they believed in me for the 14 years I served the district," he said. "I want to continue to work with them and serve them as elected representative, not a selected representative."

Meanwhile, supporters at Ludlow's La Cienega Boulevard headquarters began dancing to funk music as returns showed him in second place.

The May 20 runoff "is going to give voters a real clear choice," Ludlow said. "Do they want the politics of the past or a new vision for the future?"

In other races, 4th District Councilman Tom LaBonge defeated film producer Derek Milosavljevic. A year after losing a council bid in a special election, former Assemblyman Tony Cardenas beat businessman Jose Roy Garcia in the 6th District. Councilwoman Wendy Greuel ran unopposed in the 2nd District.

Despite the fierce competition in some campaigns, voter turnout was anemic. City officials said the number of ballots cast would be close to the previous record low for a spring council election -- 14.9% in April 1987.

Tuesday's city election marked the final blow of local term limits, as voters cast ballots to replace the last round of veteran city officials. When they finish their terms June 30, outgoing council members Hal Bernson, Nate Holden and Ruth Galanter will take with them 56 years of cumulative council experience. The most senior member of the new council will be Cindy Miscikowski, who took office in 1997.

There were only seven City Council seats on the ballot, but the results could have serious implications for the Hahn administration. The mayor will probably have to contend with an outspoken rival in Parks, who had a falling out with Hahn when the mayor opposed the former police chief's reappointment last year. Villaraigosa, who lost the mayor's race to Hahn in 2001, could present another political challenger.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem at all," Hahn said in a phone interview Tuesday night from his San Pedro home. "I'm not somebody who harbors any grudges, and I certainly hope that holds true for anybody elected to the City Council."

Parks agreed.

"I have always put the past aside, and I am not concerned with the burdens other carry," he said. "I buried the hatchet a long time ago."

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