Two-term Inglewood Councilman Anthony Scardenzan faces three challengers in a race where the issues include crime, growth, the city’s power structure, and honesty.
Mark Ganier, Scardenzan’s main challenger in Tuesday’s election, has accused the incumbent of traveling at city expense to his hometown in Italy as part of Inglewood’s Sister Cities program. Ganier has offered no proof of this, and city travel records show Scardenzan paid his own way.
Despite his incumbency, Scardenzan, 60, who owns a Gardena tool and die shop, trails Ganier in fund raising, having raised $13,835 as of last week. Ganier, 53, a maintenance supervisor for the Inglewood schools, reported raising $14,585.
Also running in the District 2 race, but far behind in fund raising, are Andrew Chapralis, 63, the owner of an Inglewood burglar alarm company who ran unsuccessfully in 1985, and Daniel Checo Langston, 46, a management consultant.
Last year, Scardenzan spearheaded a drive to fight gangs and drugs by hiring 20 new police officers through a tax assessment, saying the extra police were worth the political risk of promoting higher taxes. Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure in November.
“I fought the longest for it,” Scardenzan said. “I’m doing everything I can to fight crime, not just talking about it.”
Ganier, however, has labeled Scardenzan an “instigator of crime,” accusing the councilman of allowing widespread development of apartment complexes that cause congestion, crime and overcrowded schools.
“The housing pattern in the district has created crime,” Ganier said in an interview. “People are being treated like cattle. They’re packed in on top of each other. It’s unhealthy. There’s dissatisfaction with Scardenzan. He’s provided absolutely no service.”
In response, Scardenzan said he sponsored an emergency moratorium on construction in the city last year, then pushed for passage of last year’s law that reduced density throughout Inglewood. At Scardenzan’s request, the law imposed a particularly tough rezoning in his north Inglewood district, reducing allowable building heights by half and increasing setbacks, parking requirements and minimum property size for construction of new units.
Scardenzan emphasizes his record of independence. In 1984, he was the only council member voting against an $11-million refuse contract awarded to Western Waste Industries, a contract that Scardenzan and many residents opposed because it was awarded without competitive bidding.
Scardenzan also was the only council member to actively oppose Proposition 1, a ballot initiative defeated in 1987 that would have given Inglewood a full-time mayor with four times the mayor’s present $10,800 annual salary.
Ganier has criticized Scardenzan for his recent vote to grant City Manager Paul Eckles a three-year contract extension--approved three to one by the council--which raised Eckles’ salary to about $122,000 a year.
Ganier said he favors making council members full-time officials, saying they have more of a stake in the city than administrators, many of whom live elsewhere.
Scardenzan called the idea of a full-time council for a city of 104,000 residents a waste of taxpayers’ funds and questioned Ganier’s motives.
“People that run for office should have their own job,” Scardenzan said. “They should feel like they are giving something to the city, not taking something from the city. He’s looking for job security for himself, not good government and administration for the city.”
The union representing the city’s police officers has endorsed Scardenzan, as have Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and State Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles).
Ganier has the backing of Assemblyman Curtis Tucker Jr. (D-Inglewood). Although Ganier has been a political contributor to Mayor Edward Vincent in the past, Vincent has recently spoken well of Scardenzan--who has been an occasional rival. Vincent has not made an endorsement.
Ganier is making his first bid for public office, but he is no political neophyte, as evidenced by his well-financed campaign. Ganier’s past political involvement includes working on the 1987 campaign of Councilman Ervin (Tony) Thomas, whose election was later annulled because of widespread Election Code violations by Mayor Vincent and other campaign workers.
Ganier said that he did not participate in any of those violations, and that he opposes a recent decision by the council to appeal that election annulment to the state Supreme Court.
Ganier’s allegation that Scardenzan traveled to Italy at taxpayer expense is made in a campaign brochure. It says the trips were taken as part of the Sister Cities program that Scardenzan initiated with his birthplace, Pedavena.
But city records show that Scardenzan used his own money for the two trips he has taken to Italy since the program of student exchanges began in 1985. The program is financed jointly by the city of Inglewood and private contributors.
Scardenzan said: “He keeps on lying. He’s doing it with a malicious intention because he wants to discredit me, not because I’ve done something wrong.”
Ganier would not provide proof of his allegation, saying: “Let him sue me. I stand by what I’ve printed.”
Doris Haisler, chairwoman of the Sister Cities Committee, said Scardenzan has housed and entertained students and other participants in the program at his own expense.
“For him to be accused of this is absolutely outrageous,” she said. “It is an absolute lie. He has done just the opposite. He has been incredibly generous.”
When asked about the aggressive tone of his campaign, Ganier said: “He’s got to do what he’s got to do, and I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Another disputed element of the campaign is an October, 1988, letter on Inglewood Unified School District stationery, signed by Ganier. The letter, addressed “Dear Neighbor,” complains about problems caused by construction in the council district and criticizes Scardenzan, but does not say that Ganier planned to challenge him in Tuesday’s election.
Scardenzan says Ganier’s use of school district stationery for political literature is a misuse of public funds.
Ganier acknowledges writing the text of the letter but said someone copied his original letter onto district stationery in an effort to discredit him.
Langston appeared at a candidate forum recently, and his signs are visible in the district. But he has failed to file any campaign spending reports and has been notified by City Clerk Hermanita Harris that he risks fines for missing two reporting deadlines.
Langston said his treasurer had not been aware of the deadlines and said he would file his statement this week. He estimated that he had raised about $1,500.
He said he is better qualified than Scardenzan because he has a background in management and runs a management consulting firm. He joined in the call for a full-time council that would decrease the city manager’s power.
“I think the city has grown, and there is a different need,” he said. “Everything right now is concentrated in the city manager. You could better utilize resources and fund four full-time councilmen and a mayor with the city manager’s salary.”
Chapralis, a security consultant, said he is a 45-year resident of Inglewood and is running for the council for the third time because he perceives dissatisfaction with Scardenzan.
“I can remember when this was a growing city,” he said. “I want to make it that way again.”
Chapralis, who filed a short form indicating he will not spend more than $1,000, said he thinks the police should put more officers on the street to curb gang activity.