Council Incumbents Outdistance Foes in Fund Raising

Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles City Councilman Ernani Bernardi raised more than his six challengers combined in his race for reelection in the northeast San Fernando Valley’s 7th District, campaign reports show.

But the 28-year council veteran fell short of enjoying the fund-raising advantage held by his Valley colleague, Joy Picus, who had amassed more than six times the cumulative amount of money collected by her five opponents in the West Valley’s 3rd District.

Bernardi raised $46,551 during the first two months of this year; his six opponents raised a total of $40,283.

Lyle Hall, a former president of the Los Angeles firefighters union, raised $18,175. Hall received a number of contributions from labor unions that have tangled with Bernardi for years over his efforts to limit city pensions and salaries.


Did Not File

Irene Tovar, a former chairman of the Hispanic Caucus of the state Democratic Party, failed to file a report, saying she needed to double-check her figures. She said in an interview that she raised $11,400, mostly from Latino business and political leaders from across Los Angeles County. Tovar has said a Latino can win the seat because of the 1986 council redistricting that established a Latino majority in the district.

Jules S. Bagneris III, president of the Lake View Terrace Home Owners Assn., raised $10,274, and businessman Al Dib raised $434. Barry Gribs, a drug therapy intern at Glendale College, and James Braun, office manager for a construction firm, reported raising no money.

A 1985 voter-approved city law limits contributions to council candidates to $500 per source. Contributions are sometimes, but not always, a test of political support. In the 1987 election, council President Pat Russell raised nearly $165,000 and challenger Ruth Galanter raised $30,000. But Galanter eventually defeated Russell.


Additional Fund-Raisers

Several of the candidates have planned additional fund-raisers before the April 11 election.

Bernardi’s contributors include Los Angeles By-Products Co., which is seeking city approval to turn a Sun Valley gravel pit into a garbage dump. Bernardi refused comment on the contribution. However, he vowed in November to oppose the disposal of household refuse in the Strathern Pit.

Bernardi also reported receiving free office space to plan his fund-raiser from City Hall lobbyist Ken Spiker.

In the 3rd District, Picus raised $87,346.

Jeanne Nemo, a Republican activist challenging Picus for the second time, raised $6,870. She was followed by Peter Ireland, an aide to Los Angeles County Supervisor Deane Dana, who raised $2,705; business executive Paul McKellips, $1,910; car salesman Ron Rich, $1,370, and hot dog vendor Mort Diamond, $1,272.

Picus’ spending statement suggests that she is taking the race seriously. She spent virtually all of the funds on campaign mailers and a political consultant.

Meanwhile, Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who amassed more than $1.5 million for his erstwhile mayoral campaign, raised less than $54,000 for his reelection effort in the 5th District, which includes parts of North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys.


Yaroslavsky spokeswoman Karin Caves said the councilman’s fund raising has gotten off to a slow start because he has been busy returning his mayoral money.

Despite his slow start, Yaroslavsky still outpaced his rivals. Slow-growth activist Laura Lake, seen as the councilman’s toughest foe, reported $21,000 in contributions for the first two months of this year, while urban planner Ryan Snyder raised about $1,000. Political consultant Jack McGrath, a write-in candidate, was not required to file.