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SUPERVISORIAL ELECTION / REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK : Molina Mailer Fails to Sway Couple--Because They’re Torres’ Parents

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Somebody had better tell Los Angeles City Councilwoman Gloria Molina to recheck the formula her experts are using to mail absentee ballot applications to supporters.

One of the most important strategies for winning the historic race for 1st District county supervisor on Jan. 22 is to get as many absentee ballot applications as possible into the hands of backers.

The last thing you want, according to campaign expert Larry Sheingold, is to send ballot applications to households of people who are going to vote for one of your opponents.

Nevertheless, ballot applications urging a vote for Molina were mailed to the Monterey Park home of Julia and Arthur Torres--the parents of state Sen. Art Torres, a supervisorial candidate.

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“We appreciate Gloria helping us out,” said Torres consultant David Townsend. “It’s going to come down to only 2,000 or 3,000 votes to win this thing, and that means we’ll take help from any quarter.”

Will Mr. and Mrs. Torres be using Molina’s absentee application form to vote for their son?

“You betcha,” gloated Townsend.

In their first appearance together, all nine candidates for supervisor--the familiar and the unknown--crowded into a TV studio for a one-hour debate. The candidates had only a few moments each to deliver their pitches, and few items of substance could be broached.

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But for the little-known, under-funded candidates, a moment of free exposure on Channel 5 was welcome--despite the fact that the show will air at 6 a.m. on Jan. 12 and again at 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 14.

No matter. Candidate Jim Mihalka, a paramedic who has received virtually no media coverage, arrived for the taping two hours early. Said Mihalka: “We’re just glad to be invited to something--finally.”

If you were a candidate in the supervisor’s race, would you want retiring Supervisor Pete Schabarum’s endorsement?

State Sen. Charles M. Calderon recently met with Schabarum, but Schabarum has not decided to back anyone, said his aide.

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“All endorsements are welcome,” said Dina Huniu, Calderon’s campaign manager. “He (Schabarum) probably has a lot of support in this district. He still has support among the conservative white voters.”

Tell that to Molina and Torres, who have attacked Schabarum throughout the campaign.

They have noted that Schabarum bitterly and unsuccessfully fought the voting-rights lawsuit that opened the all-white board to Latino representation. Schabarum has argued that because his grandmother was Mexican, he has an affinity for the concerns of Latinos.

Lately, whenever a disbelieving Torres refers to the retiring supervisor, he calls him “Pedro Schabarum.”

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What’s this “O’Brien for Supervisor” letter arriving in the mail?

Superior Court Judge Gregory C. O’Brien Jr. finished second in the June primary in the old 1st District. The June primary results were voided by a federal judge, and O’Brien never got his chance to face former Schabarum aide Sarah Flores in a November runoff. When the race geared up for a second time, in the newly redrawn 1st District, O’Brien bowed out.

But last week, he sent a letter with an “O’Brien for Supervisor” letterhead to supporters saying, “I feel like the bride, who, having accepted the shower presents, notifies her friends that the wedding has been canceled.”

“I had a lot of that stationery left,” he told a reporter. “I might as well use it up.”

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Sarah Flores carefully selected a grim urban backdrop Monday to highlight her anti-crime plan and simultaneously take a shot at two rivals.

Outside Edward’s Steak House, a defunct eatery near crime-plagued MacArthur Park in Molina’s City Council district, Flores said: “We do not want the drug plague that we see here in Gloria Molina’s district to spread to the rest of Los Angeles County.”

She also criticized Torres for voting in the mid-1970s to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana and for opposing the death penalty.

Torres spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers responded, “It is interesting that (Flores) can’t find anything more up-to-date to attack him on.” Myers said Torres was voted legislator of the year in 1989 by the California Assn. of Police and Sheriffs.

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Molina, meanwhile, conceded that MacArthur Park has troubles. “Sarah is taking advantage of it. The reality is our accomplishments are tremendous,” she said, noting her successful efforts to establish a police substation and to blockade streets used for drug dealing.

“A lot of this,” Molina said, such as homelessness, “is a county responsibility that has not been fulfilled.”


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