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Redondo Beach Races Include Elements From ‘All In the Family’ Script : Treasurer Candidates Afraid ‘Big Daddy’ Aids Son’s Campaign

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Times Staff Writer

Money is an issue, in more ways than one, in the city treasurer’s race.

On March 3, voters will elect a city treasurer who will be responsible for keeping track of the city’s income and investing its funds.

Both Alice DeLong, who has been city treasurer for the past 12 years, and one of her opponents, William A. MacAlpin, have expressed fears that the third candidate, Bruce Unruh, has a war chest that was built up with unspent funds raised for his father. His father, state Treasurer Jesse Unruh, had more than $1.5 million in campaign funds after his reelection in November.

Bruce Unruh would not discuss contributions, but his campaign statements through mid-January show no contributions from his father’s campaign fund. The statements show he has raised nearly $6,000, mostly from executives in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Huntington Beach, New York, San Jose and Hawthorne. None of the contributors listed Redondo Beach addresses.

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DeLong and MacAlpin are worried that the money will give Unruh an advantage that will be difficult to overcome.

DeLong, 52, said she expects to spend about $2,500--probably her own money, she said--during the campaign. MacAlpin, 50, said he expects to spend about $10,000, including about $5,000 of his own money.

Unruh, 39, who was finance director for his father’s reelection campaign, will not say how much he plans to spend, but acknowledged: “I think they’re probably right; I’m going to spend some money.”

‘Strategy Decision’

His campaign manager, Rick Taylor--of the Winner, Taylor & Associates Inc. election consulting firm of Los Angeles--interjected, “That’s a strategy decision that we don’t give away.” Unruh was the only one of 10 Redondo Beach candidates to have his campaign manager present during interviews with The Times.

Of Unruh’s fund-raising, MacAlpin said, “My personal opinion is that Big Daddy’s buying him a job.” But, he added, “I think money is an important factor in any election, but not the most important factor. I don’t think voters in Redondo Beach are going to be impressed by someone who spends 1 1/2 times what the job pays to get the job.”

The job currently pays $37,800 a year and will pay $48,000 after the election. The term of office is four years.

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DeLong, who led an unsuccessful petition drive last fall to place a campaign-contribution limitation measure on the ballot, said campaign spending can be crucial.

“The last election, the people who spent the most money won and I’m sure that could happen again unless the people are informed. And how you get people informed is through (campaign) literature and that’s expensive.”

Doerr Spent Less

The only successful candidate in the 1985 municipal elections who spent less money than an opponent was Mayor Barbara J. Doerr, who was outspent by Jerry Goddard $20,253 TO $8,553.

DeLong was an unsuccessful District 1 City Council candidate in that election. She was outspent $14,513 to $2,296 by Councilman John Chapman.

MacAlpin questions whether DeLong still wants the treasurer’s position, citing her council race and aborted resignation.

DeLong resigned in January, 1986, as city treasurer, explaining that family responsibilities were demanding too much of her time. Two weeks later, she withdrew her resignation, saying that she feared the City Council would appoint a longtime political foe, former mayor Dave Hayward, to the remaining year of her term.

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Not Expected to Run

MacAlpin, Unruh and several city officials said they thought that when DeLong rescinded her resignation she only intended to serve the remainder of her term, not run for reelection.

DeLong acknowledged some indecision in the past two years. “I haven’t been that wishy-washy in all the years I’ve been here,” she said. The family responsibilities that led her to submit her resignation last year “aren’t as overwhelming as they appeared at that time,” she said.

She said she never neglected her city work and has put in a lot of overtime during the past 12 years, even when three close family members died.

DeLong said an $850 monthly raise the City Council recently gave to the treasurer and city clerk--effective after the March 3 election--influenced her decision to run for reelection. She said she deserves a raise because she worked at the job full time for many years, even though the pay was at a part-time rate until recent years.

Investments Criticized

MacAlpin and Unruh had other criticisms of DeLong. MacAlpin said she invests too much money in certificates of deposits and said he can show how she lost $800,000 to $1 million in potential interest during the last three years. He said some of the money should have been put in higher-yielding, long-term government-protected accounts.

DeLong said, “We haven’t lost one penny in 12 years.” Someone can always say that he could find better interest rates, DeLong said, but “I don’t see how. We’re extremely competitive here.” She said Redondo Beach is financially sound and invests with 50 organizations.

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She is working on collecting unpaid sales taxes, she said, which should result in an additional $75,000 to $100,000 each year for the city. She said she instituted a new system to collect unpaid parking fines four years ago from which the city received several hundred thousand dollars immediately and continues to collect $75,000 to $100,000 in extra money each year.

MacAlpin said he would like to increase the city’s interest income by $200,000 a year (it was $2.9 million last year), increase efficiency and morale within the department and establish a better working relationship with other city departments.

Unruh Would Shop Around

Unruh said he would make sure the city’s investments are secure and would shop around for the best return rate possible, which sometimes means creating competition through comparative shopping. He said the city is using only a handful of the 30 to 35 government-insured investment vehicles available to the city.

Unruh said he would explore various investment pools, including the Local Agency Investment Fund through the state treasurer’s office that was set up by his father.

Unruh said his father’s position is an advantage to him because “it’s given me insights. . . . It can’t help but be advantageous in Redondo Beach.” Jesse Unruh has been one of California’s most prominent and influential politicians during the past 30 years, but his son said he is not interested in any state political office.

His father’s name recognition also can be a disadvantage to him, he said. “Some people probably don’t like Jesse Unruh, to be blunt about it,” he said.

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MacAlpin has the support of the entire City Council. City Clerk John L. Oliver is endorsing Unruh and Mayor Doerr supports DeLong.

Surplus Claimed

Unruh put out a campaign flyer last week that claimed the city has a $25-million surplus. “That’s an obscene amount of money to be sitting on,” he said in an interview. He said the surplus should be spent on causes such as senior housing and expanding the latch-key program for children. Child care is an important issue to him, he said, because he had trouble finding it for his 5-year-old son.

City Manager Timothy Casey said Unruh “mixed apples and oranges in his flyer.” He said the city has between $3 million and $3.5 million that is not restricted to a specific use.

The flyer also misstates the city’s utility tax as 5.25%. It is actually 5%. Unruh could not be reached for comment after the flyer’s release.

Unruh said the city could afford to drop the tax, which would require City Council action, but Casey, DeLong and MacAlpin oppose eliminating it. “I do not think we would be in very good financial shape if we abandoned that,” DeLong said.

Large Revenue Producer

The utility users’ tax is the third largest revenue producer for the city, MacAlpin said, and if it were eliminated, the city would not have any surplus left in the General Fund after two years.

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MacAlpin said he would not get involved in shaping city policy. “If the treasurer’s office gets involved in it, I think it hampers the city,” he said. “ . . . I can do the best for Redondo Beach by making more money for the city and being more effective in the office. I’m not a politician.”

Unruh said he would get involved in city policy-making. As treasurer, he said, he would make suggestions to the City Council and tell it what money is available for specific uses. If he did not get a favorable response, he said, he would take the issue to the voters.

DeLong said she thinks she has upset the City Council by speaking out on financial and environmental issues in the city, although she often prefaced her remarks on development matters to the council by saying she was speaking as a citizen, and not as the city treasurer.

DeLong is married, has one daughter and has lived in Redondo Beach for 23 years. MacAlpin is divorced, has three children and has lived in the city for eight years. Unruh is married, has one son and has lived here seven years.

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