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Riverside Ward 5 Race: Uphill for One

An insurance agent with little money is up against an endorsed and well-funded incumbent.

October 23, 2003|Seema Mehta | Times Staff Writer

The race to represent Ward 5 on the Riverside City Council pits an incumbent with a big campaign war chest and a string of endorsements against an insurance agent who is waging a door-to-door campaign to topple him.

Councilman Ed Adkison, a land surveyor, is among the top fund-raisers in all of four council district races on the Nov. 4 ballot, but he said he is taking nothing for granted.

"I'm out hustling door to door, making calls, trying to shape the campaign. I'm in full campaign mode at this point," he said. "You can't rest on your laurels."

The ward includes Arlington, the Arlington Heights greenbelt and parts of the La Sierra Avenue and the Ramona neighborhoods.

Don Walters, the insurance agent who has twice run for council unsuccessfully, acknowledges that some see his campaign as an uphill battle against Adkison -- but he still expresses confidence.

"I have a good chance as long as people get out there and vote their conscience," he said. "They're tired of the condition of Ward 5."

While campaigning, Adkison, 47, reeled off a list of accomplishments since he joined the council in 2000: increasing business investment in the ward, improving relations with the county, helping to create a city office for seniors and increasing tree-trimming.

But there is still work to be done, he said. Most vital is dealing with the wave of growth that is about to consume Riverside. Chief among his concerns is making sure police and fire services keep pace with the growth, putting new infrastructure in place, reducing traffic gridlock and annexing unincorporated areas that already take advantage of city parks and other services but don't pay for them.

"I don't think it's embracing growth," Adkison said. "The reality is that there is going to be another million or million and a half people in the next 20 years. You can say and do what you want, but that's the fact, and we have to deal with it."

Adkison had raised nearly $67,000 as of Sept. 20, and has been endorsed by the firefighter and police officer unions, City Council members and others.

Walters, 73 and a Korean War veteran, said Adkison allowed the city budget to grow too much, and Walters criticizes the size of the council pay raise that Adkison voted for. He also said the city's growth is out of control and must be slowed.

"There's too much development," he said. "I hate to see the orange groves and lemon groves disappear."

Walters also said city streets and other government facilities and services are not well-maintained in the ward. He said he would improve the roads and increase rat abatement.

Walters said he has turned down special-interest donations and instead has been asking for $1 from every voter he meets. He said he has raised about $600 this way while campaigning around the ward.

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