Local Elections : Some Contests Are Short on Glitz, Long on Earnest Campaign Efforts

Times Staff Writer

Some campaigns leading up to elections Tuesday in the San Gabriel Valley are devoid of slick brochures, billboards and yard signs, but candidates are making an earnest effort nonetheless and raising serious issues.

For example, the question of how to handle severe ground-water pollution is being raised in three water district elections.

Republican Assemblymen Charles Bader of Pomona and William H. Lancaster of Covina have overwhelming advantages in voter registration and financial resources, making their reelection nearly a foregone conclusion, but Democrats and Libertarians are offering voters an alternative.

And even though Republicans did not nominate candidates against Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes parts of Altadena and Pasadena, or Assemblyman Charles M. Calderon (D-Alhambra), there will be minor party candidates on the ballot.

The water district elections involve seats held by John Maulding and Howard Hawkins in the 17-city Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District and Myron (Mike) Johnson in the 4-city San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. Both districts were organized nearly 30 years ago to deal with water shortages. The upper district is a member of the Metropolitan Water District, which imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California. The other district does not belong to MWD, but imports Northern California water through the State Water Project.

In the upper district, both Maulding and his opponent, Royall Brown, are engineers running for the Division 3 seat, which serves an area that takes in La Puente, part of West Covina, Avocado Heights and Valinda.

Brown, 53, of West Covina, said much of the area's ground water is so high in nitrates, volatile organic compounds or salts that it should not be consumed. Instead, he said, the area should import more water from Northern California for drinking and use local, high-nitrate ground water for irrigation.

It is more costly to import water than to pump local wells, but Brown said many residents, by buying bottled water or installing filtration systems, have "demonstrated their willingness to pay much more than the current tap water rates for good drinking water."

Maulding, 65, of Hacienda Heights, who has been on the water board for 6 years, said that switching to imported water is impossible because of the limited supply available.

Although areas of ground water have been contaminated by industrial solvents and other chemicals, the purity of the water supplied to residents has been maintained, said Maulding, who is senior vice president of a large engineering firm. Maulding said residents are protected by frequent monitoring of wells.

Water 'Meets Standards'

"The water that is being served is all right," Maulding said. "It meets all the standards."

In the upper district's Division 4, which takes in Covina and parts of Glendora, West Covina, Baldwin Park and Bassett, Hawkins is being challenged by R. William Robinson, a former chemist with the state Air Resources Board.

Robinson, 37, who is self-employed as a purchasing agent, criticized the water district for opposing the South Coast Air Quality Management District's requirement for air pollution controls on air-stripping towers that remove pollutants from well water. Without the controls, Robinson said, pollutants will just be transferred from water to air. The air quality district has at least temporarily rescinded the requirement because of a suit filed by the water district.

In addition, Robinson accused the water board of being "passive and weak" in dealing with major issues. He said Hawkins, who has been on the board since the district was created, has had ample time to contribute ideas and now he would like a chance.

Hawkins said he offers the voters a wealth of experience in dealing with complex water issues. He was one of the organizers of the water district, has been its representative on the MWD board since 1963, and has served on a interstate board on use of the Colorado River.

He was on the Covina City Council for 15 years, including 10 as mayor, and is a member of the Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees.

Working With EPA

Hawkins said the water district is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated ground water. Progress is being made, he said, although EPA is moving more slowly than he would like.

At the age of 76, Hawkins said, "I still think I'm capable," and he noted that others apparently value his ability because he was recently named to the MWD board's executive committee. In addition to his civic positions, Hawkins operates a chemical fertilizer company in Glendora.

In the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, Johnson, who has been on the board since 1968, is being challenged by Joseph C. Reichenberger, a civil engineer, for a directorship that serves most of Monterey Park. Johnson is a former mayor and councilman in Monterey Park. Reichenberger's wife, Patricia, is on the council.

Reichenberger, 46, is a vice president of Engineering Science in Pasadena and teaches college classes in water- and waste-water treatment systems. He said he offers 25 years of experience in the water business and is running to make sure that the area's water problems are addressed.

He said he would encourage cities to develop zoning plans that take the limited availability of water into account.

Johnson, 73, is circulating a 4-page brochure describing his accomplishments stretching back to 1957, when he unsuccessfully tried to promote a deal that would have put the Los Angeles Dodgers in Monterey Park and a dump in Chavez Ravine.

Johnson served 8 years on the Monterey Park City Council before beginning 20 years of service on the water district board, which serves Alhambra, Azusa and Sierra Madre, in addition to Monterey Park.

He said he is deeply concerned about the pollution of San Gabriel Valley ground water and believes that it may soon be necessary to store imported water separately to preserve its purity. Imported water is now brought to the San Gabriel Valley, allowed to seep into the ground and then pumped out with other ground water.

Roybal is the only congressman in the San Gabriel Valley who will not have a major-party opponent on the ballot. But his administrative assistant, Jorge Lambrinos, said Roybal is running a full campaign, meeting with groups of voters and sending out political mailers.

Roybal, 72, has been in Congress since 1962 and before that served 11 years on the Los Angeles City Council.

His election opponents are Ralph Reyes, 42, of Los Angeles, who is the Peace and Freedom Party nominee, and John C. Thie, 83, of Pasadena, who is running on the Libertarian ticket.

Socialist Platform

Reyes, a teacher formerly employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, is campaigning on a socialist platform and emphasizing opposition to aid to the Contras in Nicaragua and to restrictive immigration laws. Reyes said he has no quarrel with Roybal's votes on the Contras or immigration, but believes the Democratic Party has moved too far to the right.

Thie, who said he is self-employed as a health consultant, promises to restore honesty and morality to government, eliminate the income tax and use existing sales tax money to fund Social Security.

In the 62nd Assembly District, Lancaster, 57, is seeking reelection to a seat he has held since 1972. The district includes Claremont, Covina, Glendora, La Verne, San Dimas, Upland and parts of West Covina and Pomona.

Lancaster, in politics since he was elected to the Duarte City Council at the age of 27, is now the senior Republican in the Assembly. He has worked for extension of the Foothill Freeway and is the author of bills dealing with liability insurance, banking, education and other issues.

Opposing Lancaster are Democrat Wayne N. Wendt, 33, a computer operator from Covina, and Libertarian Susan Polson, 27, a Mt. San Antonio College student who lives in Pomona.

Wendt said Lancaster has served long enough in Sacramento to become a Republican leader, but instead has accomplished little. "I can't find anything he's done," Wendt said.

Seeking Fourth Term

Bader, 48, a former mayor of Pomona, is seeking his fourth term in the 65th Assembly District, which includes part of Pomona and stretches eastward through Chino, Montclair, part of Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga to Victorville and Hesperia.

His opponents are Democrat David Neal Chamberlain, 22, who was graduated from Pitzer College in May and now works as a financial planner, and Libertarian Paul N. Gautreau, 35, an attorney, who lives in Pomona. Chamberlain, who lives in Chino, said he became a candidate only after it became clear that no other Democrat was entering the race, and he thought it was important for his party to be on the ballot. Gautreau said he believes the two-party system is stagnant and that the Libertarian Party offers a "reasonable and rational alternative" by combining the Democratic concern for individual liberty with the Republican advocacy of economic freedom.

In the 59th Assembly District, Steven Pencall, a 28-year-old engineering technician who lives in Alhambra, is the Libertarian candidate and the only opponent for Calderon, 38, the Democratic incumbent. Pencall said he has not been able to spend much time on his campaign. "I wish I could, but unfortunately, there is the need to earn a living," he said.

Calderon, an attorney who has been in the Assembly since 1982, said he was "gratified" by the absence of Republican opposition because it is "one indicator of my strength in the district."

Calderon, who is one of the so-called "Gang of Five" Democrats challenging the Assembly leadership of Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), said he has been able to spend time helping the reelection campaigns of two political allies, Assemblymen Gerald R. Eaves (D-Rialto) and Steve Peace (D-Chula Vista).

The 59th Assembly District takes in Alhambra, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, South El Monte and part of Whittier.

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