Incumbents Take Beating at the Polls : Elections: Voters make clean sweeps in three cities. Assemblymen Frank Hill and Charles Calderon are winners in race for Senate seats.
San Gabriel Valley voters ousted 18 incumbent council members, including all those running in La Puente, Monterey Park and Temple City, and rejected two tax measures Tuesday.
In La Puente, where no incumbent has been defeated since 1968, voters made up for lost time. For the first time in city history, three veteran councilmen were swept from office in a dramatic upset fueled by the highest voter turnout in 14 years.
In Temple City, three candidates who said it was time for new ideas and leadership swept three incumbents aside.
And in Monterey Park, newcomers scored decisive victories over two council incumbents, including Barry L. Hatch, the outspoken former mayor who alienated some residents with his complaints about illegal immigration.
Incumbents also were turned out of office in Arcadia, Azusa, Covina, El Monte, Glendora, Irwindale, San Gabriel, South El Monte and West Covina.
In addition to the city votes, special elections were held Tuesday to fill two vacant state Senate seats. Assemblyman Frank Hill (R-Whittier) won a runoff to succeed William Campbell of Hacienda Heights, who resigned to become president of the California Manufacturers Assn., in the 31st Senate District.
Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) was an easy winner in the 26th District, which was represented by Whittier Democrat Joseph B. Montoya until he resigned in February after being convicted of political corruption charges.
Voters in La Puente elected Manuel J. Garcia, 52, chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, Edward L. Chavez, 26, a substitute teacher and school board member, and Louis R. Perez, 52, a sales engineer for a diesel company.
They ousted incumbents Francis M. Palacio, 62, and Max E. Ragland, 70--both of whom were vying for their seventh four-year terms on the council--and Louis F. Guzman, 70, a council member since 1979.
“It’s time for the changing of the guard,” said Garcia, who led the field of eight candidates with 632 votes. “I think the people sensed that.”
Palacio, who served 24 years on the council, said he was pleased that the three victors were all Latino. “I helped pave the road for these people,” he said, noting that few Latinos held municipal office in Los Angeles County two decades ago.
No one characterized the spirit of the election better than Chavez, who was only 2 years old when Palacio was first elected to the council. Chavez, who has a political science degree from UCLA, said he even has photos of himself as an infant posing with the councilmen he helped defeat.
“It was kind of hard to run against them, you know, just out of respect,” said Chavez, who still lives at home with his parents. “But obviously I think the community wanted to move forward. I’ll never say I was better than these councilmen, though. I’ll never gloat.”
In a hotly contested race in Monterey Park, incumbents Pat Reichenberger and Hatch lost to challengers Sam Kiang, an attorney and engineer; Marie T. Purvis, a businesswoman, and Fred Balderrama, automotive shop owner.
Hatch said he had no regrets. “I did it my way,” he said.
In Temple City, Mary Lou Swain, running for her third term, and Ken Gillanders and Tom Atkins, both running for their fourth terms, were defeated.
Challenger Bobbie McGowan was the top vote-getter with 1,764 votes, followed by Cathe Wilson and Mary Louise Manning. “I’m absolutely elated,” said McGowan, who said she ran because she felt the council was not listening to residents. Voters “have spoken again,” she said. “but this time at the ballot box.”
In Azusa, council members Bruce Latta and Jennie Avila took unexpected tumbles, losing to John Dangleis and Stephen Alexander. Councilman Tony Naranjo, who had aligned himself with Latta and Avila in a bid to oust Mayor Eugene Moses, saw his hopes for higher office dashed.
“I thought we were taking this city in a direction they wanted,” Naranjo said. “It’s really puzzling to figure out this community, I tell you.”
In South El Monte, Raul Pardo, 30, a newcomer to the city’s politics, outdrew three other candidates in six of seven precincts. He and incumbent Jim Kelly, who tied Pardo in his home district, won the two seats, beating incumbent Ignacio (Slim) Gracia.
“The community overwhelmingly spoke,” said Pardo, celebrating with exuberant campaign volunteers in a storefront after the results were in. “The voters said it was time for a change, and they wanted somebody to bring a new vision.”
Gracia, 71, who trailed the field, said that Pardo had “played to my age.” But he acknowledged that he had done little campaigning.
“This is a funny city,” said Vice Mayor Stan Quintana, who made an appearance at City Hall early in the evening. “People like to see you. Gracia didn’t get out and walk.”
In Irwindale, where disillusionment after a failed multimillion-dollar Raiders bid still looms over the tiny city, voters replaced longtime incumbent Joseph Breceda with Frederick Barbosa, the man most known for trying to stop the football stadium project. Two other incumbents, Robert Diaz and Patricio Miranda, were reelected.
Barbosa, 41, joined other residents and Los Angeles City Councilman Ernani Bernardi in suing the city in 1987 to force it to prepare an environmental impact report on the proposed stadium’s impact. A Superior Court judge ordered Irwindale to conduct such a study, and barred Irwindale from negotiating with the Raiders until it was completed more than a year later.
Arcadia Councilman Roger Chandler lost his bid for relection, finishing fourth among six candidates. The winners were incumbent Robert Harbicht, George W. Fasching, a businessman who owns a travel agency and car wash, and Joseph Ciraulo, owner of a medical transcription service.
In El Monte, Mayor Don McMillen, a fixture on the council for 10 years, edged challenger Art Platten for reelection, with Maurice Lopez a distant third.
In the council election, El Monte, whose population is about 75% Latino, lost its only Latino councilman when incumbent Ernest Gutierrez was edged out by Patricia Wallach and Jack Thurston in a six-candidate field. The two winners waged aggressive campaigns, attacking the current council for allowing what they described as runaway development.
In San Gabriel, newcomer Dominic S. Polimeni outpolled both incumbents in a three-way race for two seats. Polimeni, 49, has been a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission for seven years. He is the administrator of the Alhambra Municipal Court. Veteran Councilman Sabino Cici won a fourth term.
In Covina, Chris Richardson, who has been city clerk for 27 years, was elected to replace Mayor Bob Low, who had served for 12 years. Low finished last in the three-candidate race, trailing winners Richardson and incumbent Henry Morgan.
West Covina voters ousted Councilman Richard Lewis and swept in challengers Richard Jennings and Steve Herfert. Jennings attributed his victory to voter discontent with the city Redevelopment Agency’s arrangements with developers.
In Glendora, Councilwoman Lois Shade was at a loss to explain why she failed in her bid for a third term. She gained 2,874 votes but trailed Marshall Mouw, a 47-year-old letter carrier, by 169 votes, in a comparatively large vote turnout. Shade said a tax measure to buy hillside property, which was resoundingly defeated, helped draw voters to the polls.
Also elected in Glendora were incumbent Bob Kuhn, a 46-year-old insurance agent, who gained a second term, and Molly MacLeod, 38, an attorney and city planning commissioner.
Claremont voters reelected Mayor Nicholas L. Presecan and Diann Ring to their second four-year terms, but also elected a critic of city policies, Algird G. Leiga, 56, a business executive. Leiga said his election reflected not only hard work by an army of volunteer supporters but also voter desire for stronger controls over city spending.
Rosemead City Councilmen Gary Taylor and Dennis McDonald won easily against challenger Frank Villar, each earning more than a 2-to-1 margin of votes over Villar despite the newcomer’s intense campaigning.
Only one newcomer was chosen among seven candidates to fill three City Council seats in Sierra Madre. MaryAnn MacGillivray, marketing vice president of a health products company and the only woman candidate, will join incumbent Clem Bartolai and former councilman Gary Adams on the council.
Voters supported an advisory measure limiting the terms of council office, but rejected overwhelmingly a measure that would have increased property taxes 8 1/2 cents per every $100 of assessed value to raise money for paramedic services.
San Dimas Mayor Terry L. Dipple won reelection without opposition and Councilman Sandy McHenry was reelected. John Ebiner, a hospital computer analyst, finished ahead of five other candidates to win the second council seat.
In Baldwin Park, Mayor Pro Tem Bette Lowes was easily elected from a field of three candidates to her first full term as mayor. No provision has yet been made for filling the remaining two years of her council term.
Incumbent council members Julia McNeill and Bobbie Izell were also reelected from a field of six candidates. Two ballot measures that would have changed the mayor’s position from a two-year elected term to a rotating seat among council members were defeated.
In South Pasadena, where six candidates were vying for three seats, incumbents James Hodge Jr. and James Woollacott Jr. were returned to the council. Harry A. Knapp also was elected. Former Councilman Robert Wagner finished fifth in the voting.
In Diamond Bar, which had to hold its second election only a year after incorporation because of a technicality in state law, both incumbents running for reelection, John Forbing and Gary Werner, won four-year terms. Jay Kim, owner of a Diamond Bar-based engineering firm who outspent all eight of his opponents, won the third seat and captured the highest number of votes.
In La Verne, Mayor Jon Blickenstaff scored a decisive victory despite an aggressive campaign by challenger David L. Sardeson, who criticized the city’s approval of a 12-screen movie theater with 2,950 seats. Incumbent Councilmen Patrick J. Gatti and Robert Rodriguez also won new terms.
Monrovia voters reelected Lara Blakely and John Nobrega to the council and gave Mayor Bob Bartlett another term.
In Alhambra, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition A, which repealed a 1982 ordinance prohibiting the sale of Alhambra Community Hospital without approval from two thirds of the voters.
The financially troubled hospital had fallen behind in rent payments to the city, forcing the city to tighten its belt by slashing the municipal budget twice last year.
Times staff writers Irene Chang, Jesse Katz, Elizabeth Lu, Edmund Newton, Siok-Hian Tay Kelley and Vicki Torres contributed to this report.
* ELECTION RESULTS: J9-10