Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson, breaking with City Hall protocol, Tuesday endorsed Al Dib over fellow Councilman Ernani Bernardi in the northeast San Fernando Valley’s 7th District race.
Bernson offered no criticism of Bernardi, his colleague for the past 10 years. He said he was supporting Dib, a 55-year-old past president of the Arleta Chamber of Commerce who recently sold his produce business to campaign full-time, because he has been a friend and a longtime political supporter.
“I know from personal experience that Al Dib will be a dedicated, energetic and experienced representative for the people of the northeast Valley,” said Bernson, who also has given Dib the maximum $500 contribution permitted by law. “Over the years, Al has been a tireless worker on just about every important community service project in the area.”
Bernardi, who has never been opposed for reelection by a colleague, said: “Hal Bernson is over 18. There isn’t anything I can say about it.”
It is rare, but not unheard of, for council members to endorse a challenger over an incumbent. Councilwoman Ruth Galanter is the only other council member this year to buck tradition. She is supporting slow-growth activist Laura Lake over Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky in the 5th District race.
Bernson and Bernardi have generally agreed on issues, but relations between the two reached a low point in 1985 when Bernardi publicly attacked a Bernson proposal to clean up a crime-ridden, run-down area of Bernson’s West Valley district. Bernardi, who sometimes bucks another council tradition of deferring to a colleague on a matter in his district, helped kill the plan. But Bernson said Tuesday that he harbored no ill feelings toward Bernardi.
Bernson said the endorsement “ought to be looked at as endorsement not against Ernie but for Dib.”
Dib, a Democrat-turned-Republican, ran unsuccessfully for the council’s old 1st District seat in 1973 and 1977. He is among seven challengers to Bernardi in the April 11 election in a district that is largely new to the councilman because of the 1986 council redistricting.