ELECTIONS ’88 : ORANGE COUNTY : Friendly Contest for Fountain Valley Seats

Times Staff Writer

You can almost picture some of the seven Fountain Valley City Council candidates swapping home-improvement tips, drills and handsaws.

Four of them are longtime friends who met through their involvement in the Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, youth sports or some other community organization. The rest of the candidates are respectful or carefully polite about each other. Sure, one candidate noted, some campaign signs have vanished from utility poles or light standards. But there are no smear tactics, no searing personal attacks.

While the city of 55,000 residents is almost militant in its desire to remain a bedroom community--a proposed shopping center created the biggest stink in two decades--nobody expects the cordial race for two council seats to get ugly before Nov. 8.

“Heck,” said incumbent George B. Scott, who is seeking reelection. “I’ve known Doug Hughes for years, I’m good friends with (Robert M.) Hoxsie, (John) Collins and (Jim) Petrikin. So I could work with any of them.”


Added candidate Donald V. Chaney: “We all know each other, though we may not agree on everything. There’s no mudslinging in this race, and that’s nice.”

No Burning Issues

The polite politics can, in part, be attributed to what all of the candidates for the at-large seats have called a lack of burning issues in the city founded only 31 years ago in central Orange County.

“We really don’t have many issues, and since we don’t, the entire campaign reverts back to experience,” said candidate Petrikin. “Let’s face it. Everybody knows that our strawberry fields are going to be developed. It’s just a question of how, and how carefully.”


That certainly became a heated question in February, when the fate of a 140-acre strawberry field was the subject of a special city election.

Southpark--a planned 30-acre shopping center anchored by a Price Club discount store, and a 110-acre office park devoted to research and development businesses and some light industrial uses--riled up the normally low-key community, pitting some homeowner associations against others.

Residents qualified an initiative for the ballot to decide whether they wanted Southpark. Voters overwhelmingly favored the development, and negotiations are under way with developers of the project. City officials contend it will reap $1.5 million yearly for Fountain Valley and secure the city financially through the turn of the century. In interviews, the candidates offered general positions on general issues: traffic jams that plague the rest of the county; flood control concerns that worry such cities as neighbor Huntington Beach, and the need to establish commerce that generates the highest possible sales tax revenue with the lowest possible density and car volume.

The candidates are:

- Donald V. Chaney: A retired Orange County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant, he now works as a security sergeant in charge of policing Leisure World, the 22,000-resident retirement community in Laguna Hills. Chaney, 56, says his law enforcement background and 23 years as a Fountain Valley resident give him good perspective and familiarity with the issues. “I believe I can offer something” to the city, he said.

- John Collins: The 45-year-old owns Pioneer Business Corp., which does consulting for companies, including helping them buy and sell other companies. An unabashed supporter of Southpark, Collins led the drive for the project when a homeowner group representing one-seventh of the city’s population vehemently opposed it.

He is a licensed real estate broker and vice president of the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce. Collins is also involved with youth activities, such as the Huntington Valley Boys & Girls Club, for which he also calls bingo games each Friday night. What sets him apart from the other candidates, Collins said, is “my business experience and my community involvement.”

- Pam Halpern: The youngest of the candidates, 25-year-old Halpern is an investigator with the Orange County public defender’s office. She has lived in Fountain Valley since grade school. She has been a volunteer for the City of Hope and for a program that retrains parolees from the California Youth Authority. Still, she is concerned that her age may be a problem for some voters and pointed out that it hasn’t affected her job as a county sentencing investigator. Besides traffic, and drugs among youth, her pet concerns would be keeping open the trauma center at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, and converting schools that have been closed for low enrollment into senior centers. She said that being on the City Council has “always been an aspiration.”


- Robert M. Hoxsie: A 33-year-old carpenter, Hoxsie grew up in neighboring Huntington Beach and has lived in Fountain Valley for 3 years. He became interested in city government in his freshman civics class at Huntington Beach High, he said. Through his involvement with the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Huntington Valley Boys & Girls Club, Hoxsie said, he has met most of the other candidates except Halpern. “So we’re fairly friendly. Well, as friendly as can be expected,” he said, laughing.

- Douglas Hughes: The president of an office machines business company, Hughes has lived in Fountain Valley for 21 years and is district chairman of the local Lions Club’s anti-drug programs. Hughes, 51, has two campaign promises. One is to put “good, comprehensive drug education in every grade of every school citywide.” The other: making it possible to have “all chemicals, pesticides, oil and toxic waste of any kind (picked up) from all residences and businesses, once a month. I feel we (public servants) should help you, not fine you. It’s our problem as much as your problem.” Hughes said the toxic collection would be paid for with state and federal grants he would seek.

- Jim Petrikin: He is a 48-year-old chiropractor. His campaign literature calls him “a true Mr. Fountain Valley.” He lost by only 69 votes out of 25,300 cast in the 1984 City Council election. He has served the past 4 years on the Fountain Valley Planning Commission and currently is vice chairman. “We have very little property left to develop in Fountain Valley, and it has to be looked at very carefully,” Petrikin said. “And it will make a difference in this election. . . . The big thing is that I am the most qualified non-incumbent running, having served the last four years on the Planning Commission.”

- George B. Scott: The current mayor of Fountain Valley, Scott, 55, owns an insurance company bearing his name, and has served intermittently on the City Council. He has been mayor three times in his 13 years on the Fountain Valley City Council. Scott has lived in Fountain Valley since 1964. He favored Southpark and vows to take Fountain Valley “into the next decade as a financially sound city.”


Seven candidates, one of them an incumbent, will vie for two seats on the Fountain Valley City Council in the Nov. 8 election. Candidates are voted on city wide. A photograph of candidate Pam Halpern was not available. Donald V. Chaney

John Collins

Robert M. Hoxsie


Douglas Hughes

Jim Petrikin

George B. Scott