ELECTIONS ASSEMBLY : A Guide to Issues Facing Candidates in District 41 Race
In the 41st District, where Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) has long been invincible, Democrats Jeanette Mann and Rod C. McKenzie are dueling through a primary that could have a significant impact on the general election. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district 78,805 to 64,745, and Nolan has raised over $100,000 more than his opponents, but he has been named as an unindicted target in an FBI investigation into legislative corruption. Nolan has twice had to deny rumors that he will resign. Mann has generated endorsements and contributions from a long list of liberal Democratic clubs and candidates, and stressed ethics and abortion rights in her campaign. McKenzie has run a low-key campaign, suggesting that he could likely draw crossover GOP voters in November.
Jeanette Mann, 53, of Pasadena is serving in her second term as a trustee of the Pasadena Community College District. She received her bachelor’s degree in creative writing and her master’s and doctoral degrees in English language and literature from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Currently, she is director of affirmative action programs at Cal State Northridge. Mann has received the endorsements of the California Democratic Party, California NOW and various labor organizations. She and her husband, Kenneth, a scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have three grown children.
Rod C. McKenzie, 52, of Altadena is a professor of geography at USC who specializes in environmental geography. A newcomer to politics, he said he entered the race because of incumbent Assemblyman Pat Nolan’s strong anti-abortion stance. McKenzie received his bachelor’s degree in history and his master’s and doctoral degrees in geography from UCLA. He and his wife, Carol, a professor of recreation and leisure studies at Cal State Los Angeles, have a 13-year-old daughter, Mary.
Republican Assemblyman Pat Nolan and David Velasquez, representing the Peace and Freedom party, are unopposed in their primaries. Their names will appear on the general election ballot in November.
Questionnaires were distributed to candidates in contested primary races and were returned this month. Answers have been edited to fit the available space.
Q. Under recently introduced legislation, state sales taxes would be raised by a quarter-cent for 10 years to help finance school construction. Do you favor an increase in sales taxes to underwrite new school construction?
Mann: No. I support the use of existing and proposed bonds to fund school construction; bonds are more appropriate for such long-lasting capital projects.
McKenzie: Given disproportionate harshness of sales taxes on poor families, some other tax base must be used to finance the necessary new construction.
Q. An initiative measure on the June ballot would raise taxes on gasoline sales by 9 cents a gallon to finance highway projects. Do you support the concept of higher gas taxes to underwrite road construction?
Mann: Yes, because it funds mass transit and highway rehabilitation as well as construction.
Q. Do you support a woman’s unrestricted right to an abortion within the first three months of pregnancy? Mann: Yes.
Q. Do you support capital punishment? Mann: No.
Q. Do you support the idea of breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District into smaller districts? Mann: This is an issue best left to parents and voters in LAUSD.
Q. Under current law, the state Legislature is responsible for redrawing state legislative and congressional district boundaries. Do you believe this system should be changed? Mann: No. Reapportionment is a political act; it is impossible to keep politics out of reapportionment. It is best left to the elected representatives of the people, who are accountable to the people: the Legislature.
McKenzie: Yes. Since the Legislature seems incapable of responsible redistricting, California voters have no other option than to establish a bipartisan commission.
Q. Do you support the so-called “Big Green” ballot initiative, which would eliminate ozone-depleting chemicals by the year 2000, phase out pesticides known to cause cancer and require that trees be planted in all new developments? Mann: Yes.
Q. Do you think the state should require private employers to subsidize day-care services for employees who request them? Mann: No. Day care ought not to be required by the government. It should be provided by the government or supported by tax credits as one among many benefits, such as health care, made available to employees.
McKenzie: Yes. Full subsidy, no. However, partial subsidy is appropriate in that it requires of employers some minimum philosophical acceptance of this responsibility. Cost would be minimal as it would be passed through to the consumer of the company’s goods and/or services.
Q. Do you support the state’s efforts to build prisons in Lancaster and East Los Angeles? Mann: Lancaster, yes. East Los Angeles, no.
Q. Proposition 112 on the June ballot would ban speaking fees and limit gifts to state legislators while creating a commission that could pave the way for higher legislative salaries. Do you support this ballot initiative? Mann: Yes. It is critically important to pay legislators a reasonable salary; not to do so forces them to supplement their income with honorariums and phony consulting services.
McKenzie: No. For a college professor such as I, the Assembly pay will not be sufficient to maintain two residences without honorariums. Higher salaries seem unrealistic in the present, especially given the electorate’s distrust of “politicians.”
Q. Do you support Gov. Deukmejian’s proposed constitutional changes that would require state prison inmates to work in privately sponsored industries to pay for their incarceration? Mann: No.
Q. Do you believe our present system of criminal prosecution, interdiction of supplies and imprisonment of users and dealers will ever significantly reduce the level of drug use in the United States? If no, what should be done? Mann: No. As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. We must convince our young people that drugs are death.
McKenzie: No. More education in K-12, plus a surer sense of justice. Crowded courts combined with generous bail and early release hardly send a message of a resolute society.
Q. Would you consider the possibility of decriminalizing the use of drugs? Mann: No.
Q. Do you support raising sales or other taxes to finance anti-drug law enforcement efforts and/or anti-drug education programs? If yes, by how much? Mann: No. I support the Van de Kamp drug initiative, which would provide for the use of bond money to support a planned, eight-year effort to eliminate drugs.
Q. Do you support full or partial public funding of political campaigns? Mann: Yes. Public funding will free candidates from their obligations to special interest groups so that they can represent all the people--not just those who contributed to their campaigns.
McKenzie: Yes. I like the concept as long as third parties are eligible and as long as the public is supportive. However, since so few check off the optional $1 support on the Federal 1040, this proposal seems highly unrealistic.
Q. A ballot initiative now in circulation would prohibit foreign individuals and corporations from owning land in California. Do you support this? Mann: No. This is an extreme overreaction.
Q. Are you willing to publicly release your tax returns and those of your spouse before the election? Mann: Yes. They are better than Sominex.
Q. A development project called Porter Ranch would create 3,395 residential units and nearly 6 million square feet of commercial office space in the Chatsworth hills. Opponents say it is too big. Proponents say it represents orderly growth. Do you support the project at this size? Mann: This is a decision better left to the residents of the city of Los Angeles.
Q. Do you support limits on the number of terms state legislators can serve? If yes, how long should they be? Mann: Yes. I support the Van de Kamp initiative which limits the terms of state legislators to 12 years.
McKenzie: No. Too many legislators are already pretty “lame ducks” without making them truly fall into that category.
Q. A ballot initiative now in circulation would prohibit the spraying of pesticides on private property without the written consent of the owner. Do you support this measure? Mann: No. I am opposed to spraying malathion in urban areas; however, this initiative would go too far and would prohibit any spraying even in medical emergencies such as the encephalitis epidemic in St. Louis.