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Yaroslavsky to Face His Challengers at Forum Tonight

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who has angered some 5th District leaders by declining invitations to several candidate forums, is expected to engage in his first formal face-off with opponents today.

Yaroslavsky is scheduled to appear at a forum sponsored by the Carthay Circle Homeowners Assn.

Group President John Baldoni said as many as 200 people, including some who were unable to get Yaroslavsky to appear at their own candidate events, may attend the forum at 8500 Gregory Way in Beverly Hills at 7 p.m.

“If this is going to be perceived as the only opportunity in which Zev will meet the other candidates, we might have a very big turnout,” Baldoni said. “And a large part of that may come from outside of the community.”

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Homeowner Groups

Among those expected to attend the Carthay Circle event are members of the Roscamare Valley Assn., the Beverly Wilshire Homeowners Assn., the South of Burton Way Homeowners Assn. and the Cheviot Hills Homeowners Assn. Each of those groups tried and failed to line up a campaign appearance by Yaroslavsky.

The only other organization besides Carthay Circle to land Yaroslavsky was the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. Yaroslavsky unexpectedly appeared at its forum several weeks ago after his opponents called a news conference and accused him of avoiding them.

Mark Slade of Roscamare Valley said Yaroslavsky has needlessly alienated many constituents by limiting himself to one or two candidate debates before groups where he has strong support, such as Carthay Circle and Sherman Oaks.

“For a politician to ignore us like this is rather sad,” said Slade, whose organization offered to hold its forum on any night that fit Yaroslavsky’s schedule. “People take this as a real offense and a slap in the face.”

Harold Hahn, of the South of Burton Way Homeowners, said his organization was also annoyed when Yaroslavsky failed to attend its recent forum.

Both neighborhood groups have clashed with Yaroslavsky over development issues in the past. But Karin Caves, Yaroslavsky’s campaign manager, denied that the councilman is intentionally avoiding some organizations that may be hostile.

“We’ve said it a billion times before,” Caves said. “We’ll go to debates when his schedule permits, but debates aren’t the only thing he needs to do to serve his constituents properly. The bottom line is that we get tons and tons of requests for Zev to appear at things, and we just can’t do all of them.”

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Whatever the reasons for Yaroslavsky’s absences, they have been frustrating for his three opponents, who face an uphill struggle against the four-term councilman. At a recent news conference, environmental activist Laura M. Lake, transportation consultant Ryan Snyder and political consultant Jack McGrath, a write-in candidate, accused the councilman of ducking debates. All three challengers are scheduled to appear at tonight’s forum.

Quietly Campaigning

Yaroslavsky, however, is clearly resisting any outside efforts to set his agenda. He has spent the past several weeks quietly campaigning door-to-door, making speeches and raising funds. The councilman also picked up important endorsements recently from the Sierra Club and the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles, an influential gay and lesbian political organization.

Caves said it’s likely that Yaroslavsky will commit to more forums before the April 11 election. But at this point, tonight’s event is stacking up as the sole opportunity for 5th District voters to see all of the candidates in one place.

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Carthay Circle’s Baldoni said anyone is welcome to attend the event, though he expressed concern about overcrowding. Baldoni also warned that he would not allow hostile forces to take control of the forum.

“I don’t want this to turn into a shouting match,” he said. “It should be orderly. Each candidate will be given an equal voice.”


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