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LOCAL ELECTIONS | LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL

Waging Battle on the Eastside

Jose Huizar and Nick Pacheco woo voters in their efforts to win a majority Tuesday and avoid a January runoff for the 14th District seat.

November 06, 2005|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

With three days to go before election day, the two leading candidates for the Los Angeles City Council's 14th District sprinted across the Eastside on Saturday trying to shore up their bases of support.

Jose Huizar and Nick Pacheco, both attorneys, have emerged as the leading contenders among the 10 candidates vying to represent the district, which stretches from Boyle Heights to Eagle Rock. Huizar is a member of the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District and Pacheco represented the 14th District on the council between 1999 and 2003, when he lost to Antonio Villaraigosa.

The race has two major plotlines: After losing badly to Villaraigosa two years ago, can Pacheco regain enough votes in the district to win?

And does Villaraigosa have enough political muscle to help get Huizar, whom he has endorsed, elected?

The leading candidate must receive 50% of the vote plus one on Tuesday to win the election outright. Otherwise, a runoff election between the top two finishers will occur on Jan. 31.

"I'm convinced I'm in the lead and I feel I'm close to taking it outright on Tuesday," said Huizar, who has spent $42,000 on polling. "But it all depends on how effective we are in getting our supporters out to vote."

Pacheco's optimism was more guarded.

"I feel really good that I'm still the front-runner," said Pacheco on Saturday evening during a break from precinct-walking. "Honestly, I'm more inclined to believe we're in a runoff situation and to me that's a major, major success."

Huizar's day began with a rally at his campaign office in Boyle Heights with three council members -- Tony Cardenas, Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes. He later joined the mayor for a park dedication in Mount Washington and then spent the afternoon phoning voters along with council President Alex Padilla.

Pacheco started at a community cleanup in Hermon, west of South Pasadena, followed by a get-out-the-vote rally in Eagle Rock. Pacheco also went to the park dedication because it was a project he helped get started during his time in office.

When it came time for the ribbon-cutting, Huizar was included in the ceremony with the mayor, while Pacheco watched a few feet away, his hands in his pockets.

Three other candidates circulated at the park, with their sights set more on Huizar than Pacheco.

Juan "Johnny Jay" Jimenez accused Villaraigosa of scheduling events to help Huizar. And Crystal Arceo, 19, and her family passed out mailers that stated L.A. Unified board members, including Huizar, got posh new bathrooms in 2002 while "students have to run home to relieve themselves."

Huizar said he's not surprised the other candidates are gunning for him.

"They see me as the front-runner, so I'm the target," he said.

In the money race, Huizar has a solid lead.

According to campaign contribution reports on Friday, Huizar has raised $436,625 and has received $100,000 in matching funds from the city. Pacheco has raised $183,017 and received $57,938 in matching funds.

Also, three labor unions have spent more than $124,000 on materials and workers, including precinct workers, to support Huizar.

Three issues have dominated the campaign between Pacheco and Huizar:

* A possible mayoral takeover of L.A. Unified. Pacheco is against it and doesn't believe city government can run the school district any better.

Huizar has said it's worth exploring whether board members should be appointed by the mayor.

* A prospective trash fee for homeowners in the city.

There is no formal proposal before the council, but there has been talk in City Hall of instigating a small monthly fee to help cover the $200-million cost of trash pickup each year.

Pacheco is against it, saying a small fee would overburden some residents. Huizar does not rule out supporting a trash fee, though he has not endorsed the idea either.

* Leadership. "When people ask me what the difference is between me and Nick, I say it's leadership style," Huizar said. "I'm able to work well with others to get things done. He's a rock thrower."

"I am a firm believer that one of the founding principles of this country is the competition of ideas," Pacheco said.

Who will win?

"My sense is that people know Nick," said Val Marquez, 54, of Hermon, at the cleanup. "I've been to four debates and every time Huizar says Antonio's name, people boo" because Villaraigosa left the council to become mayor.

Fidel Marquez, 46, an L.A. Unified teacher from Mount Washington, said he will probably vote for Huizar because "he stands out the most."

Other voters just want the election to be over.

"We're just sick of elections around here," said Joe Riser, 47, of Hermon and a Pacheco supporter.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The candidates

Council District 14

* Crystal Arceo

Age: 19

Job: student; runs family clothing and arts business

www.arceo2005.com

Money raised: $2,410

* Ruby de Vera

Age: 59

Job: office manager for Councilman Ed Reyes

www.rubydevera2005.com

Money raised: $23,625

* Paul Gonzalez

Age: 41

Job: public speaker

Money raised: $2,254

* Brian Heckmann

Age: 50

Job: attorney

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