A political action group largely credited with electing Darlene McBane, Fran Pavley and Jack W. Koenig to the Agoura Hills City Council in 1985 endorsed McBane and Pavley for reelection Friday but dropped its support of Koenig.
The group, For Agoura '89, endorsed challenger Ed Kurtz instead of Koenig in Tuesday's election. Koenig has been feuding with the rest of the council for months. The group had made no secret of its discontent with Koenig, who last month was accused of participating in a failed attempt to recall the other four council members.
Koenig has vehemently denied involvement in the recall. But For Agoura '89 spokesman Tom Yacovone said the group was influenced by a sworn declaration from a former recall activist who said Koenig had helped plan recall strategy. The statement by Paul Foote was taken as part of a libel lawsuit filed by City Councilwoman Louise C. Rishoff against two recall proponents.
Yacovone said Koenig's involvement in the developer-backed recall was a betrayal because Koenig was "somebody who in 1985 ran on a slow-growth platform." Even if Foote's charges are not true, Yacovone added, Koenig should be faulted for publicly staying on the sidelines and not supporting the other council members.
Koenig, who insists that he was supportive of the others, was the only council member not targeted by the recall drive.
In 1985, a group of 14 people met at an Agoura Hills pizza parlor and formed For Agoura '85 to oppose several council members they viewed as pro-development. The California Commission on Campaign Financing, in a report on Agoura Hills this year, credited the group with launching a grass-roots campaign that reelected Pavley and installed McBane and Koenig. For Agoura '89 boasts a membership of more than 250 in the city of 20,200 residents.
Koenig said Friday that the group is much smaller and not the same as the one that supported him in 1985. He called the endorsements a joke and called on Kurtz to denounce them. He said the organization is Kurtz's "dirty tricks committee, his hit group" because six members are Kurtz supporters.
Kurtz would not comment on Koenig's statements except to say that he is not a member of For Agoura '89.
Yacovone said For Agoura '89 has many of the same leaders and is basically the same community-based organization as For Agoura '85.
But times have changed in Agoura Hills since the council's pro-growth majority was deposed in 1985. The 1987 and 1989 campaigns were less charged because the city has had fewer development controversies.
Also, For Agoura '85 raised about $8,000 four years ago, which it used to campaign on behalf of McBane, Pavley and Koenig. But in this campaign, For Agoura '89 had raised just $695 through Oct. 26, according to city records.
Kurtz and Koenig differ most significantly on their political allegiances. While Koenig's critics say he cannot work with the rest of the council, Kurtz has emphasized that if elected, he would be a team player.
Three seats are up for grabs in Tuesday's election, with Koenig, McBane and Pavley running in a field with three challengers--Kurtz, Paul G. (Gary) Mueller and Barry S. Steinhardt.