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Ward 7 Is Neglected by Riverside, Candidates Say

Investment in the area by the City Council has long been lacking, the four office seekers agree.

October 24, 2003|Seema Mehta | Times Staff Writer

The race to represent Riverside's seventh ward has drawn candidates from different walks of life, but they have a common complaint: The westernmost part of the city has been neglected by officials for too long.

The four candidates -- a retired police officer, a former mayor, a longtime teacher and a union representative -- all say that city investment in the area is lacking. They also complain that the crime rate is too high and the streets, curbs and other infrastructure are poorly maintained in the ward, which includes the La Sierra and Arlanza neighborhoods.

They are fighting to replace Councilwoman Laura Pearson, who is retiring after 13 years on the council.

"We should represent what's best of Riverside, not the worst," said candidate Steve Adams, a financial planner and retired Riverside police officer. "Right now, we represent the worst."

Adams, 51, said he would cut the crime rate, convince the city to spend money fixing streets, increase code enforcement and push for "smart growth" in the La Sierra area, one of the last large undeveloped parcels in the city.

Adams had raised $12,425 as of Sept. 20 and has been endorsed by police and sheriff's deputies unions and several local politicians. He said his background and his various occupations make him ideal for the job.

"That combination is uniquely what makes me the right candidate for this area," he said. "Riverside is no longer Mayberry -- it's a half-billion-dollar-a-year business, and it needs to be run like one. We haven't been doing that."

Terry Frizzel, 75, a real estate agent who served on the council for two terms in the 1970s and 1980s, and who served as mayor for four years in the early 1990s, said her experience as an elected official is what makes her perfect for the job.

She also believes city tax money needs to be directed into the ward.

"They've spent a lot of money on University Avenue and down by UC [Riverside]," she said. "A lot of our sales-tax money comes from Tyler Mall. Tyler Mall is part of the west side of the city. It's about time we got some of the tax money."

Frizzel said the ward's constituents convinced her to run for office again.

"People said, 'You've got to run. We need to get someone experienced back in there who has the knowledge and history about what's gone on at City Hall,' " she said.

"They wanted someone who has some background experience and some fiscal accountability and who knows the history of Rancho La Sierra and everything."

Frizzel, who had raised $2,117 as of Sept. 20, said the city ought to look into forming a partnership with the county or another city to preserve Rancho La Sierra, a large undeveloped parcel targeted in recent proposals for 729 homes. Residents largely believe that those plans violate two voter-approved growth limits.

Mary Lou Morales, a retired teacher who has lived in the city for more than 40 years, said she is running in hopes of bringing attention to the ward.

"You go into some areas -- they look the same as they did 40 years ago when we were annexed into the city," she said. "The city should be more aware of the needs of its citizens."

She said the poor street conditions in the ward endanger children, who are forced to walk to school in the middle of the street because there are no sidewalks in some areas.

"That's unconscionable," she said. "They should realize there's a need and set priorities accordingly. The safety of the people should be paramount."

Morales, 68, also said that because of her experience as a city planning commissioner, she is disturbed that projects opposed by residents will go forward, something she hopes to stop if she is elected.

Morales is the top fund-raiser in the race, having raised $32,904 as of the Sept. 20 disclosure deadline. She has also been endorsed by the firefighters union, Padres Unidos and several retired politicians.

Creg Quiroz, 32, said he too decided to run after being approached by residents. The Teamsters representative said the area needs more police officers and more attention.

"Ward 7 seems to be underdeveloped in comparison to other portions of the city. The roads, the sidewalks, all those areas are really lacking," he said.

"I really don't think Ward 7 has been getting their fair share of the revenue generated in the city."

Quiroz, who has raised about $16,000, added that while he sees the benefits of building some high-end homes on Rancho La Sierra, he would prefer to see it preserved.

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