SOUTH BAY ELECTIONS : Letter Spices Contest for Lawndale Clerk

Times Staff Writer

An aerospace employee, a shopping mall administrator and a co-owner of a label company are running for the $750-a-month part-time post of city clerk. One is a political newcomer, and the others have run unsuccessfully for the City Council.

The clerk's term is four years.

All of the candidates talk of the importance of maintaining the integrity of City Hall records and of providing information to the public--the clerk's primary job. The clerk's most visible role is taking care of the tape recorder at City Council meetings.

But other issues have arisen.

Gary M. McDonald, 26, a project administrator for Forest City Development, the company that owns the Galleria at South Bay, complained to the Los Angeles County district attorney Jan. 29 that opponent Neil Roth tried to mislead voters in a Jan. 25 mailer. McDonald said the mailer implies that Roth is the incumbent.

'Service to City'

The incumbent is Marsha Schutte, who is not running for election.

The flyer shows a head-and-shoulders drawing of Roth, the words "LAWNDALE CITY CLERK" underneath, and begins: "Dear Friends, I am anxious to continue my service to the city of Lawndale."

The third candidate, Rosyln Jo Havertape, 35, co-owner of New Covenant Marketing, a label firm, also was critical of Roth's flyer. "That little stinker," she said. "He was trying to play a trick."

Roth, 43, a production control administrator for Northrop Corp., said he did not intend to imply that he was the incumbent.

Mailed Only 40

Conceding that he could understand his opponents' complaining "if I sent out 8,000 flyers all over town," he said the mailer was sent only to 40 acquaintances who knew he had never been city clerk.

He said the service he mentioned in the letter refers to his tenure on the Parks and Recreation Commission (11 years) and on the Planning Commission (two years). Nowhere in the flyer does he mention service on those commissions.

"I don't feel it has misled anybody," he said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Candace Beason said she is reviewing the case. A state law forbids falsely claiming to be an incumbent.

Another issue on the minds of many has nothing to do with the position of city clerk, Havertape said.

"When I talk to people and tell them I am running for city clerk, people want to talk about parking," she said. "I personally have my own opinion about the parking problem in Lawndale. I think it stinks. But the office of city clerk is not a policy-making position. . . .

"And people understand that, after you tell them that you are involved in maintaining the records, that you have the city seal, that the seal is used on ordinances. Then we go back and talk about the parking problem."

Havertape has never run for political office before, although she served nine months on the Traffic and Safety Commission.

She said she expects to spend "well over $500 to $600--probably top out about $700." Most of the money comes from herself and her husband, with "maybe a third from relatives and friends. My mom and dad, you know."

Her campaign finance reports list an in-kind donation valued at $175 to the mayoral campaign of Jim Ramsey.

Higher Ambition

Havertape said that she would like to serve as clerk and then "go on up the ladder" in municipal government.

Roth, who lost a council election by one vote to Harold E. Hoffman two years ago, said he plans to spend about $1,500.

McDonald, who was on the Traffic and Safety Commission for about a year, plans to be the biggest campaign spender. He lost to Ramsey in a 1982 council race in which he said he was outspent 3 to 1.

"I said to myself, this time I want the people to know who I am and what I stand for. I sat down and came up with what I feel is a very cost-efficient campaign," he said.

McDonald said he is budgeting $3,500 for his campaign, about $2,000 of it out of his pocket. His largest contribution is $500 from developer John Rocca, he said.

Schutte, who cited personal reasons for not running for office, had been appointed city clerk June 17 when Joyce South resigned and moved out of Lawndale. After the April 8 election Schutte will continue in her regular City Hall job as chief of clerical services.

"I will just have less night work to do. That will not bother me a lot," she said.

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