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2 Challenge Incumbents in San Fernando

Times Staff Writer

Four candidates will vie for two San Fernando City Council seats in the April 12 municipal election, including the two incumbents and a persistent council critic.

James B. Hansen, appointed two years ago to fill a council vacancy, and Councilman Jess Margarito, seeking his second four-year term, said they will support each other in their reelection campaigns. Both said they will stress council accomplishments.

Also filing before Thursday’s deadline was Beverly DiTomaso, who unsuccessfully ran for the council in 1986. She said she decided to try again because “the voice of the people in this city is still not being heard on the City Council.”

DiTomaso has been a longtime critic of many council actions, including city development plans. She attends most council meetings.

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A newcomer to the small city, Paul Arnold, an English teacher and football coach at San Gabriel High School, acknowledged that he is a long-shot candidate but wants to give the council “a fresh perspective.”

Arnold, 32, a two-year city resident, said DiTomaso encouraged him to run. “We have similar views and feelings” on development and planning issues, he said.

In the 2.4-square-mile city of 18,000 residents and 6,232 registered voters, City Council candidates rely heavily on old-fashioned, door-to-door campaigning.

Jess Margarito, who became the first Latino to hold city office when he was elected in 1984, appears to be planning the most elaborate campaign. He has established a campaign committee and is looking for an office for his headquarters.

In 1984, he campaigned extensively in the city’s oldest Latino neighborhood. He conducted a voter-registration drive while campaigning.

“This time, we are gearing up to run a campaign that will include wide participation from the whole community,” said Margarito, who is a business consultant.

Hansen, who is mayor, a position that rotates among council members, said he has organized a small group of supporters. The only council member who works outside the city, he is vice president of finance for a Carson liquor distributor.

“I have name recognition but, unfortunately, I’m not around and visible during the day like the others,” he said. “I’ll be getting out and walking the streets so people can see me.”

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He said he wants to continue the work he has begun on the council to improve parks, develop neighborhood-improvement projects and increase city services.

DiTomaso hopes her leadership in two city initiative drives aimed at regulating development on city property will help her in her campaign for a council seat.

In 1986, DiTomaso led an initiative that won overwhelming voter approval. The measure forced the City Council to put before voters any future plans to develop a parcel of land on the city’s Civic Center property.

DiTomaso said she does not favor a recent city proposal to redevelop part of the old San Fernando barrio. The proposal has stirred neighborhood controversy because residents fear the city’s power of eminent domain, which allows a city to buy any property it wishes for necessary development.

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DiTomaso, who operates a mail-order business, said she plans to “tell the people the whole truth about redevelopment” during her campaign.


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