Voters Pick Many New Faces; College Race Up in the Air
Voters in Compton decided overwhelmingly that they did not want a full-time mayor, while voters in two Southeast cities and four school districts have ousted incumbents.
Both the Lynwood and Montebello city councils will have new faces, with one veteran incumbent in each city rejected in Tuesday’s elections. The four school boards from which incumbents were ousted are in the ABC, Bellflower, Los Nietos Elementary and South Whittier districts.
In the closest race, Carl E. Robinson Sr., who has been charged with bribery and is facing a trial Dec. 17, appeared to beat challenger James E. Carter by just one vote for trustee of Compton Community College.
“It’s a win today, but (Thursday) we have to count the mutilated ballots and that may change in his favor or my favor. I’m sure there will be a recount,” said Robinson, who is currently president of the college board.
Carter, a retired Los Angeles County parks employee who has unsuccessfully challenged Robinson twice in the past, could not be reached for comment.
Robinson acknowledged that many voters may have been disturbed by the bribery charge that was filed against him last spring. Although he is accused of soliciting and accepting a $500 bribe from a West Covina accountant who does business with the college, Robinson contends that the money was a campaign contribution.
As far as a recount goes, the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder’s office will start canvassing late and damaged ballots in all races within the next week, said public information officer Marcia Ventura. The election must be officially certified by Nov. 25, Ventura said.
In Compton, before any ballot had been counted, many city officials had expected the full-time mayor measure to carry simply because part-time Mayor Walter R. Tucker has been so popular among city voters.
Upon hearing early returns at the close of a City Council meeting, a visibly discouraged Tucker tried to shrug off the defeat of the charter amendments.
“I’m not a poor loser,” said the 61-year-old dentist. “I don’t feel I’ve lost.”
Tucker and two fellow councilmen had raised $63,800 to promote the issue of full-time mayor. The issue had been presented to voters in parts on the ballot; first asking if they favored a full-time mayor, then asking if Tucker should be automatically installed in the position, if it passed. Both questions were soundly defeated.
Tucker acknowledged that voters may have rejected the measure largely because they objected to the $73,452 salary that he would have been paid.
“You’re dealing with people who might be a little jealous of the money,” Tucker said.
While “that (salary) scares the hell out of the ordinary person,” the mayor said, by today’s standards the figure is “not all that much” to pay a city’s chief elected official. “I just couldn’t take the job for $30,000 or $40,000. I’ve got two kids in college.”
He had planned sell his dental practice and work only for the city if he had become a full-time mayor. “I’ve been saving people’s teeth for 30 years and I thought that I could use my business acumen, my humility . . . to save the city. (But) it’s going to take education,” he said.
In Lynwood, Evelyn Wells ousted long-time council member James Rowe, while veteran council members Louis Thompson and E. L. Morris were returned to office.
Wells, a financial accounting supervisor for the Lynwood School District, finished first in the crowded race in which 12 candidates were vying for three seats. It was her second attempt for a council seat.
She had been backed by Councilman Robert Henning, while Morris and Thompson had ran a slate with council candidate Louis Heine. Heine finished a close fourth.
“This is the result of a lot of hard work by me and my supporters. I feel great that the voters had confidence in me,” said Wells, who becomes the first woman in more than 20 years to be elected to the council.
In Montebello, newcomers Arnold M. Glasman and Edward C. Pizzorno gained seats along with incumbent William Nighswonger who was returned to office. Incumbent Phillip M. Ramos, who served three terms, finished fourth in a six-candidate race.
Nighswonger’s reelection marks his fifth term on the council. He was first elected in 1968.
Pizzorno, owner of a hardware store, was elected after four tries. “I finally won one,” said Pizzorno, who first ran for a council seat in 1978.
He said the result stemmed from “a mood in the town that it was time for a change.
In Bell Gardens, where six candidates were running for two seats, funeral director Ronald J. Bird and incumbent Roger McComas were elected. One seat was vacant because incumbent Frank Dana decided not to run.
In school board races, voters ousted five incumbents in five separate school districts.
In the ABC Unified School District, where three seats were being contested, newcomers Catherine Grant and Barbara Y. Goul were elected along with incumbent Peggy Lee. One of the three seats was vacant because trustee William Watt is retiring after 13 years on the board.
Incumbent Rodney H. Davis finished sixth in a field of 10 candidates.
In the Bellflower Unified School District, voters did not return incumbent Peggie Turner. Turner, who finished fourth among 11 candidates vying for three seats, was serving her first four-year term.
Incumbents Justine Miller and Larry Ward were reelected and Donald L. Hansen, a retired teacher, was elected to the board for the first time.
In that race, the incumbents had accused three challengers--general contractor Donald Rounds, bookstore owner Mike Lord and chapel administrator Harvey Conn--of being part of a fundamentalist religious slate seeking to take over the board.
The three, who denied the accusations, finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
In the Los Nietos School District, where there were three seats up for grabs, voters turned down incumbent David Waugh, who finished last in the field of five candidates.
Incumbent Richard D. Alvarez was returned to office and Los Angeles Police Officer Leonard G. Munoz and secretary Angelica G. Johnson were elected to seats. Munoz finished first.
A seat was open because incumbent Angier Andicochea was not seeking reelection.
In South Whittier, where three seats were being contested, incumbent Gerald Blackburn was knocked out of office.
Voters reelected incumbents Joe A. Durado and Keith W. Pust while newcomer David G. Hayes gained a seat. Hayes is a sheriff’s deputy.
In the same district, voters elected maintenance superintendent Octavio V. Chavez to fill a vacancy that was created when trustee John Hergesheimer resigned last spring.
Newcomers also gained seats in several other school district races where incumbents had vacated their posts.
In East Whittier City School District, where there were three contested seats, two newcomers were elected. Paula Hodgin and James Stewart were elected along with incumbent Shirley W. Nielsen. Trustees Lillian Singely and Philip Ellis were not seeking reelection.
In the Little Lake City School District, where there were two seats, newcomer May B. Sharp was elected along with incumbent Richard J. Moore. Board member Sylvia Swanson was not seeking reelection.
In Paramount, voters returned incumbents Shirley J. Elliott and Joseph Montoya to office and Craig Olson was elected for the first time. A vacancy was created on the board when board member V. E. (Gene) French decided to retire.
In the Whittier Union High School District, accountant John C. Rios was elected to one of three vacancies created when incumbent Henri R. Pellissier decided not to seek reelection.
Incumbents Joan McNeilly Nay and Eve Burnett were returned to office.
In seven other school district races, all of the incumbents seeking election were successful.
All the trustees in the Lowell Joint District were reelected. They were Herb Griffith, Joyce E. Canfield and Janet B. Averill. Challenger I. A. (Augie) Ryanen finished out of the money.
In Compton Unified School District, all four incumbents, Kelvin Filer, Sam Littleton, John Steward and Manuel Correa were reelected.
In the Downey Unified School District, incumbent Robert E. Riley was reelected.
In the El Rancho Unified School District, Frank P. Boyce, George D. Crook and E. A. Ramirez were reelected.
In the Lynwood Unified School District, two incumbents, Helen Andersen and Joe Battle, were returned to office.
In the Montebello Unified School District, all three incumbents--Darrell H. Heacock, Herbert M. Stearns and Eleanor K. Chow--were reelected.
Incumbents Jesse M. Luera, Ken Welch, William A. White and Gary V. Jones were all reelected to the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education.
Voters also returned incumbents Janet R. Henke, Mila Corral and Mildred A. Early to the Whittier City School District.
In the Cerritos Community College race, where there were three seats vacant incumbents Ada C. Steenhoek and Bob Epple were reelected along with newcomer Mark Durant. Also elected was Barbara J. Hayden, who will fill the unexpired term of Richard Goul, who resigned last summer.
One seat was vacant because incumbent board president Hazel Scotto decided to retire.
In the Rio Hondo Community College District, where there were two seats vacant, educational program director Hilda L. Solis was elected and incumbent Isabelle Gonthier was reelected for the second term. Solis filled a seat created because of redistricting.
Times staff writers William Nottingham, Virginia Escalante and Steven R. Churm contributed to this report.