5th District: No Choice

Growth creates the most pressing problems that face Los Angeles County’s San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope Valley. Young families need houses, condominiums and apartments that they can afford. They want to commute without fighting traffic for hours, and they want schools that are not as congested as freeways.

Whether they get these amenities depends largely on the caliber of the man who will represent their 5th District on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The record of the two candidates suggests that families will have to live with things as they are, at least for another four years, because neither Supervisor Mike Antonovich nor his challenger, Baxter Ward, would be of any help to them on issues that count. We cannot endorse either candidate.

Ward’s record during his eight years on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was undistinguished. There is no indication that he is any better qualified to serve now than he was then. Our impression is that he has spent the years since he left the board alternately lamenting the rejection by voters of his rapid rail plan and saying of today’s traffic jams, “I told you so.”

Antonovich, who took Ward’s seat from him in 1980, has an even worse record. He has checked his pro-growth proclivities since he was forced into a runoff election, but he clearly encourages, on behalf of builders, massive development far beyond the scale envisioned in the county’s general plan. Excessive urbanization during his tenure has over-burdened freeways and schools.


During his two terms, Antonovich has supported deep cuts in health-care services for indigents. He has opposed adequate funding for homeless people. He has delayed providing services to sufferers of AIDS, and has rejected an aggressive educational program to stem the spread among drug users. His extreme and inflexible stances have hurt the county’s most vulnerable residents.

Antonovich has also opposed improving political representation for the county’s 2 million Latinos despite threats by the Reagan Administration’s Justice Department. His opposition to new district lines and an expansion of the board should come as no surprise. His views on immigration have been consistently insensitive to Latinos.

No matter who wins, voters of the 5th District are not likely to see much change in their struggle to cut commuting times and classroom sizes, or in the board’s dismal handling of its responsibility to jails, courts, hospitals, shelters and other services for 8 million county residents.