ELECTION '90 COVINA : Mayor, Rivals Disagree About Fire Assessment


Two of the three candidates for City Council are backing a proposed fire service surtax, and all promise to expand senior programs and to improve conditions on dilapidated city streets.

In the race for two council seats, incumbents Mayor Robert G. Low and Councilman Henry Morgan are running against challenger Chris Richardson, the city clerk for 27 years. The top two in the April 10 election will gain seats on the council, which will elect a new mayor from among its five members on April 17.

On the ballot is an advisory measure on whether a fire assessment district should be created to help fund fire protection services. If a majority of voters support the measure, the council may vote to assess the average single-family residence $72 annually, beginning in fiscal year 1990-91. The $1.67 million generated annually would allow Covina officials to spend general fund monies on other services in the city of 43,000.

Low, 56, opposes the fire assessment, which the other two candidates support.

Even though the city has been dipping into its reserve funds to balance its budget, Low maintains that the council just needs to tighten its fiscal control. "Government must learn that the public has limited resources," said the high school government and economics teacher.

Covina residents do not pay any citywide tax, but people in some neighborhoods are charged assessments for lighting and landscaping.

Low, a 28-year Covina resident who holds a master's degree in history from Cal State L.A., also is running on his record: three four-year terms on the council. He has supported the downtown revitalization project, reductions in residents' water rates, and expansion of senior programs and the city library's book collection.

Morgan, 62, also is completing his third term. A 31-year Covina resident, he is a Navy veteran with a bachelor's degree in physics from Pomona College. He retired after 35 years with International Business Machines Corp., where he held technical, management and marketing positions. He sits on boards of the Foothill Transit Authority and League of California Cities. He represents the 61 cities of eastern Los Angeles County on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and is a governor-appointed member of the region's California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

A Rotary Club member, he supports promoting downtown businesses and expanding a city housing subsidy program for seniors. He favors the proposed fire assessment district as a way of generating more income.

"With voter-approved funding we will be able to increase police patrol, improve paramedic response and begin to rebuild our streets," Morgan said.

Richardson, 65, retired from full-time work as city clerk in June, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family. She continues to take the minutes at council meetings. The 35-year Covina resident has been active in social service agencies for 29 years.

"Our biggest problem is our infrastructure," said Richardson.

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