Mayor Barbara Doerr, who has spent her first four-year term saying "no" to new development and road-widening projects across the city, received a "yes" vote from residents Tuesday, decisively defeating two-term City Councilman Jerry Goddard in her bid for reelection.
But even as Doerr rejoiced, she acknowledged that her battle to run the city is only half over.
"The makeup of the City Council is critical," said the mayor, moments after learning she had avoided a runoff by winning more than 50% of the vote--tallying 54.1% (4,106 votes) to Goddard's 43.4% (3,295 votes).
The trio of "slow-growth" candidates that Doerr favors--Alice De Long, incumbent Ray Amys and Valerie Dombrowski--all ran second to candidates favored by the more development-oriented Goddard faction--John Chapman, Kay Horrell and incumbent Archie Snow. A runoff will be held May 14.
In South Redondo's District 1, first-time contender Chapman, a county engineer, tallied 39.5% of the vote, compared to current City Treasurer De Long's 34.9%. A third candidate, attorney Kevin Stapleton, took the remaining 25.5%.
Real estate broker Horrell, who has also served as a Planning Commission member and president of the city's Chamber of Commerce, out-tallied harbor-area incumbent Amys 36.6% to 31.7%. Third-place finisher Rene Burke, who has agreed with Amys that the harbor is overdeveloped, earned 25.9% of the District 2 vote while newcomer Mark Keppler picked up 5.9%.
In North Redondo's District 4, incumbent Snow, a one-time council gadfly who is now closely allied with the city's leading businessmen, won 45.7%, compared to city school board trustee Dombrowski's 32%. Newcomers Steve Reiss and Carl Clark scored 15.8% and 6.5% respectively.
Doerr, who has veto power rather than a vote on council issues, said she is confident her allies can still turn things around. "I definitely feel from walking and talking to people that the community still appears concerned about development and they just want good government and good services," Doerr said.
But Goddard said he remains confident that the initial leaders will prove victorious. Voters, he said, must realize that if Doerr's allies take control of the council, "they would seriously injure the business community and the economics of the city."
Both sides agreed that the balance of power may rest with the third-place finishers--if they can mobilize their supporters behind specific candidates. Another factor will be the degree to which the finalists can get out the vote in May. On Tuesday, the voter turnout was 22%.
Stapleton, for one, said he is undecided whether to support Chapman or De Long. "What the people who voted for me will do is a key," he said, "(But) I just want to sit down and let the dust settle a little bit and then come out and make a statement."
Burke, who sides with Amys on the issues, refused to immediately endorse the incumbent. "It's his fight and he has to win it," he said. He added, however, that he would not endorse Horrell because he considers her to be a voice of harbor development interests.
Reiss was the only third-place finisher to come quickly to the aid of an opponent. The sales administrator said he firmly supports Dombrowski, but acknowledged, "I think we're in trouble, not Archie. That whole slate did outrageously well. Goddard didn't get in, but everyone else made a strong showing . . . and we'll have to redouble our efforts."
In the mayor's race, a third candidate, airline pilot Gary Smith, did no visible campaigning and was not a factor. Smith received 2.5% (192 votes).
The other city hall contest decided without the need for a runoff was for the new full-time city attorney's post. Part-time incumbent Gordon Phillips defeated newcomer Harlan Swain by 64% to 36%.
'Vote of Confidence'
"It's a vote of confidence with the work we've done for the last four years," said Phillips. "People want an experienced, competent city attorney."
In the race for two seats on the Redondo Beach City Elementary School District Board of Trustees (in which runoffs are not held), incumbent Rebecca Sargent easily won reelection to a second four-year term with 42.2% of the vote. The other available post was captured by Howard M. Huizing, a retired principal. Unsuccessful candidates in the low-key election were Bart Swanson and John W. Miller.
Of 10 ballot propositions, several were perfunctory City Charter changes. The only issues that sparked much interest concerned the Daily Breeze newspaper and the exposure of female breasts.
In the former, voters firmly rejected a measure that would have permitted the City Council to reject the lowest bidder in deciding what publication will run the city's legal advertisements. Controversy erupted last year when the Easy Reader weekly--which has much lower circulation in the city than the Breeze--was awarded the contract by underbidding the Torrance-based daily.
Voters also refused to eliminate a section of the City Charter that makes exposure of female breasts illegal. The City Charter review committee had sought the change because the city's law has been preempted by subsequent state legislation.
Such contests paled in visibility, however, to the mayor's race, which was hard-fought, and to some degree, bitter.
Former Redondo Union High School Principal Goddard, a home-grown South Redondo resident, constantly questioned Doerr's leadership capabilities and charged that she was anti-business and anti-development. Supported strongly by Chamber of Commerce and King Harbor business leaders, Goddard heavily outspent his opponent while urging voters to elect a mayor whose thinking coincides with that of the outgoing council majority.
"You have to give Barbara credit," said Goddard on Wednesday. "She is obviously a strong campaigner and ran a strong campaign. Some of the things I had to fight against . . . were the fact she was an incumbent and the fact she made no major mistakes in her term in office. We disagreed on issues but she in the eyes of the public didn't do anything wrong. She also had more time to walk (door to door) than I did.
"All the money in the world, the best-run campaign, great mail and telephoning isn't worth a hoot and a holler in Redondo Beach--you have to go out and walk, plan on spending 10 weeks out there every single day trying to appease the voters."
Goddard, who said he would not rule out running for office again, also facetiously thanked, "the thousands of voters in Redondo who own vicious dogs or trained attack children."
Goddard said he would work for Chapman, Snow and Horrell, noting "there's a clear difference between the candidates." Goddard, who is a high school teacher, a part-time sheriff's deputy and naval reserve officer, added that now that he has stopped walking door-to-door, he will begin running again a few miles a day for exercise.
Doerr and her supporters, meanwhile, said they will also work strenuously for their slate.
"We've just begun to fight," said Frank Bostrum, a leading Doerr campaign worker. "We've got three council races and we need a council to complement the mayor."
Bostrum, who was a leading opponent of a 1984 plan to widen Flagler Lane into a north-south traffic corridor through the city, is a typical member of the grass-roots coalition that Doerr forged to win reelection.
Supporters at Party
At Doerr's celebration Tuesday night in her South Redondo home, guests included residents who successfully fought the Flagler and Ripley-Lillienthal street-widening projects, who fought plans to develop the entire closed Aviation High School campus into office buildings, who fought the planned Inn at King Harbor hotel/sports complex and who fought the city's strict new street-sweeping rules.
City Clerk John Oliver said that Doerr's victory "really goes to show that money can't buy an election."
City Chamber of Commerce President Mary Davis countered, however, that "it's tough to beat the incumbent and tough to beat a woman who is as cute as she is." She called Doerr, "a good politician and a bad mayor."