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LOCAL ELECTIONS

Turnout light at polls across the Southland

In Beverly Hills, an Iranian American councilman could become mayor. Many voters are weighing tax increases.

March 07, 2007|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

Voters in 38 cities in Los Angeles County and one in Riverside County went to the polls Tuesday to decide more than 100 elected positions and a handful of ballot measures. Turnout was light.

In Covina, voters defeated an extension of a 6% tax on their water, telephone, gas, trash and electricity bills. The measure would have brought in $5.5 million annually to fund general city services such as the fire and police departments.

Beverly Hills residents, marking their votes on bilingual English-Farsi ballots, were deciding whether to reelect two City Council incumbents, including Jimmy Delshad, who was seeking to become the city's first Iranian American mayor. The position is rotated among council members according to seniority, and Delshad was next in line.

Challenger Nancy Krasne led the field of six candidates. Delshad was holding onto his seat with a mere seven-vote lead over incumbent Steve Webb, with 100% of precincts reporting, but 892 votes remaining to be verified.

In the Coachella Valley town of Desert Hot Springs, businessman and city Public Safety Commission Chairman Scott Matas won in a field of five candidates running for a City Council seat left vacant after Mayor Pro Tem Gary Bosworth died last summer.

City leaders had hoped that voters' selection of a new council member would give the town a fresh political start. The community of 20,000 was the subject of a scathing Riverside County Grand Jury report last year that portrayed a city rife with ethics violations.

A ballot measure to determine whether council members should serve rotating terms as mayor was defeated.

In L.A. and several surrounding cities voters were favoring three incumbents on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. One incumbent could face a runoff.

In Glendora, former Mayor John Harrold, a political adversary of current Mayor Doug Tessitor, lost his bid for City Council.

And after a campaign colored by the arrest of two teenagers, who are accused of putting stickers on campaign signs that they said were illegally placed on public property, incumbent Gary Clifford -- one of their targets -- finished second in a field of seven candidates seeking three seats.

Pasadena residents chose among 24 candidates in a primary election for mayor, four council seats and three spots on the school board. They also passed Measure C, a $4.25 increase on the existing $26.30 per parcel tax to increase library funding to $2 million per year.

Neighboring San Marino passed a $265 per parcel tax, Measure R, which will fund the continued employment of 15 teachers, a librarian, a counselor and two computer technicians who are now paid by the San Marino Unified School District.

Voters in Monrovia, meanwhile, were considering Measure L, a $62 parcel tax on single-family homes that would fund construction of a new library.

Elections in four cities took place under the watch of federal observers to assure that balloting was conducted in keeping with the Voting Rights Act.

Azusa and Paramount were ordered to comply with the voting act after failing to translate much of their election materials into Spanish.

Rosemead was under a similar order for allegedly not translating most of the city's election information into Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese or providing assistance to speakers of those languages. Justice Department officials also monitored Gardena's accommodation of Spanish, Japanese and Korean-speaking voters.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com

Times staff writers Tami Abdollah, Angie Green, Sara Lin, Charles Proctor, Ashley Surdin and Adrian Uribarri contributed to this report.

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