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ELECTIONS ’88 ORANGE COUNTY : Seven Candidates Make Quiet Runs for Seats on Fullerton Council

Times Staff Writer

Seven candidates, two of them incumbents, are running for three seats on the Fullerton City Council in the Nov. 8 election, and it appears to be a quiet race.

Most of the campaigning so far has taken the form of get-togethers with campaign supporters and kaffeeklatsches with local civic groups, though one incumbent, Chris Norby, has been walking the city’s precincts since January, 1987, knocking on doors. Some predict with a grin that by November, Norby may have spoken to almost every registered voter living in this city of 110,000.

Don Bankhead was the first in this political pack to get his signs up, and Mary-Evelyn Bryden has responded with posters that play off her first two initials, saying, “Vote for ME.”

The other incumbent in the race is Mayor Richard C. Ackerman, who already has served two, 4-year terms. Ackerman, Councilman A.B. (Buck) Catlin and outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Linda LeQuire have tended to vote as a bloc on the five-member council. Norby has been something of a political maverick during his first term on the council.

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After serving two terms, LeQuire is leaving the council to serve as an aide to State Sen. Edward R. Royce (R-Anaheim). Catlin and Councilwoman Molly McClanahan won’t be up for reelection until 1990.

LeQuire, Ackerman and Catlin have endorsed council candidate Dan N. Baker, a longtime planning commissioner who has been active in the Chamber of Commerce and a leading proponent of commercial development in the city.

For an up-close look at the candidates and their positions, the League of Women Voters of North County is sponsoring a forum at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at the library next to City Hall.

In the only other municipal race in Fullerton, City Clerk Anne M. York, in office since 1976, is running unopposed to retain her $53,185-a-year job.

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Council members, who are paid for attending certain commission meetings, make an average of $600 a month.

Here are the council candidates:

- Richard C. Ackerman, 45, is a corporate attorney and the city’s present mayor. In Fullerton, the mayor is chosen by the council. Ackerman said he sees no overriding problems in the city and wants the council to continue on its present course. He points to the Orangefair Mall and the Price Club as major accomplishments in Fullerton that have brought more money to the city’s coffers for such cultural activities as the Muckenthaler Cultural Center and the Fullerton Museum. A soccer coach in his spare time, Ackerman would like to see more field space for youth and adult sports organizations. “Overall, people are happy with the direction the city is going,” he said.

- Dan N. Baker, 53, is vice president of a hotel management firm and for eight years was a member of the city’s Planning Commission. Baker is backed by the same business and political activists as those who have supported Ackerman, Catlin and LeQuire. A member of the Fullerton Economic Development Committee, Baker said his efforts there have been instrumental in bringing such firms as the Price Club to Fullerton. In the past five years, the city’s revenue from sales tax has more than doubled because of the influx of new businesses, he said. “I want to continue the direction the city is going in terms of development and fiscal control.”

- Don Bankhead, 56, whose birthday is July 4, recently retired with the rank of captain after 31 years with the Fullerton Police Department. “I’m just the all-American boy,” he joked. But his council candidacy is very serious. “I enjoy public service,” he said. “This is a way to continue that type of work only at a different level of decision-making.” Bankhead, resurrecting the major election issue of the 1986 council races, said he opposes a city ordinance that allows one type of jet to land at the Municipal Airport.

- Mary-Evelyn Bryden, 65, describes her long government service, in areas ranging from transportation to resource management, as key experience. “My 15 years of work at the Orange County Transit District have given me a regional perspective that is essential,” she said in a campaign statement. Now a governmental relations manager for the transit district, Bryden is a former city planning commissioner, aide to a county supervisor and member of the city’s Energy Resource Management Committee. Bryden says the current council is unresponsive to citizens’ wishes. “I see citizens coming to the council as adversaries, not participants. People should be more involved.”

- William B. Gabriel, 30, is a car repossessor and part-time actor and writer making his first bid for a council seat. A Libertarian, Gabriel’s main concern is keeping the state and federal government out of city affairs as much as possible. The city should do as much on its own as it can. “That’s the main reason for my running for the council,” Gabriel says.

- Raymond W. Merryman, 70, a retired industrial engineering contractor, is also making his first run for the City Council. During World War II, Merryman says, he served in the Army’s chemical warfare branch and has the expertise “to clean up McColl Dump. In 1934 I swam in that dump myself, and I want to live to see myself swimming there again.” Merryman also opposes jets landing at the city airport and said he wants to emphasize “senior citizens’ issues,” such as housing, health care and self-esteem.

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- Chris Norby, 38, is a junior high school civics teacher whose chief concerns are local neighborhood issues such as parking, sidewalks and street care. He appears to be an indefatigable campaigner. “I started walking precincts in January, 1987,” Norby said. “I found the concerns people have are in their immediate neighborhood.” He also sends a regular newsletter to more than a 1,000 people. A self-described independent, Norby says he is not allied with any faction on the council or any other city group. “I feel I’ve done a good job my first term, and I can do as well and be more effective because of my experience.”

FULLERTON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Seven candidates, two of them incumbents, are running for three seats in the Nov.8 election. Candidates are elected citywide.


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