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Bradley Promises to Give Gays More Important City Positions

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Times Staff Writer

Mayor Tom Bradley generated bad feelings in the Los Angeles gay community by including only a few gay men and women last year in his mass appointment of new city commissioners.

But the mayor and his staff have worked to heal the political wounds, and Tuesday he promised the city’s top gay campaign contributors that they will receive more important appointments.

“As additional vacancies occur, it will get our serious attention, and I assure you you’re going to get more,” Bradley told the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles at a breakfast in Beverly Hills.

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The group--composed of gay men, lesbians and their supporters--is a major contributor to local election campaigns. The members have strong ties to Bradley and are expected to endorse his reelection campaign this spring against City Councilman John Ferraro.

Only Jane Fonda and Paul Newman have drawn larger crowds to the group’s breakfast meetings. Marsha Kwalwasser, a MECLA board member, introduced Bradley on Tuesday by recalling that she worked as a scheduler in his first successful mayoral race in 1973. Her husband, Hal Kwalwasser, was named by Bradley to the city Fire Commission last summer and now is running for city controller.

“I would hope that this large turnout is simply an indication of the growing interest of MECLA, the power and influence which you are developing in this community,” Bradley said. “We have come a long way in this 11 1/2, 12 years.”

Since disappointing the group last year, the mayor has met with gay leaders at a weekend MECLA fund-raiser and his chief of staff, Tom Houston, has held several meetings with the group to discuss issues, MECLA co-chairman Larry Sprenger said Tuesday.

Gay community leaders also are pleased that last year the mayor added a MECLA member to his office staff and has provided city help to find relief for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, a disorder that has claimed 324 deaths in Los Angeles County.

Asked about the appointments, Bradley said that he began the process of replacing more than 100 commissioners last summer, and that he had prepared a list of gay community leaders to be included among the candidates.

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“We thought that considerably more were going to be appointed than actually wound up on the list, because of the juggling that had to take place trying to get geographic balance, balance between the sexes, (and) balance between the races.

“You know, it’s the most horrendous problem you have ever seen. And when we wound up with the final count, we discovered there were fewer (gay community appointments) than we had planned.”

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