City Councilwoman Gloria Molina and state Sen. Art Torres have each pursued successful legislation to improve the quality of life for children, help the disadvantaged and protect residents from malathion spraying, their voting records show.

The records also show that the two liberal Democrats, who are vying for the job of 1st District supervisor in Tuesday’s special election, have pursued separate legislative agendas that shed some light on the differences between the candidates.

Their track records provide some indication of the political directions each candidate is likely to take if elected to the five-member County Board of Supervisors.

Times staff writers Jill Stewart, Richard Simon and Hector Tobar examined the records of the two candidates.


Los Angeles City Councilwoman Gloria Molina, who served 4 1/2 years in the Assembly before her council election in 1987, has cited among her proudest Sacramento achievements efforts to outlaw zip code redlining by auto insurers and a law requiring officials to notify all neighborhoods of the dates they will be sprayed with malathion.

Molina’s numerous anti-redlining bills were defeated amid insurance industry lobbying, but she was credited with having brought wide publicity to the issue.

On the council, Molina has focused on laws and policies designed to correct problems in her largely Latino working-class district.

She has led successful efforts to force city crews to sweep streets in neglected areas, to restrict liquor licenses in neighborhoods with an over-concentration of liquor stores, to prevent businesses in residential areas from using toxic chemicals and to develop a policy to ensure that all neighborhoods get a fair share of police deployments.


Molina is best known for pushing a series of sweeping city housing laws, most of which are pending but are expected to be approved by the City Council, that have given her a reputation as a champion of affordable housing.

In 1989, she was appointed as chairwoman of the council’s influential Housing and Redevelopment Committee.

Last August, Molina sponsored a key law that compels Los Angeles landlords to pay renters 5% interest on security deposits.

Her voting record generally is a liberal one.


Molina has focused on children’s issues, joining in 1988 with her council rival, Richard Alatorre, to persuade the city to create a $2.1-million recreation program for kids considered at risk of joining gangs.

Also in 1988, Molina persuaded the Los Angeles Unified School District to unlock school playgrounds after hours in neighborhoods that lacked parks. In return, Molina spent $50,000 in city funds for playground supervisors--a model later adopted citywide.

While Molina is not viewed as being pro-development, she recently completed four years of negotiations with major landowners who want to create a huge downtown community known as Central City West.

Under terms sought by Molina, developers agreed to privately pay for an unprecedented level of affordable housing, traffic improvements and open space.


Molina is known an outspoken person who criticizes her colleagues for acts with which she disagrees. In 1988, she cast the only vote against a new city homeless policy, calling it “as wimpy as the paper it’s written on.”

After Mayor Tom Bradley and other officials unveiled a plan to build a privately financed civic landmark downtown known as the West Coast Gateway, Molina became the leading critic of the controversial steel-beamed structure, which may still be built.

Molina also has fought some efforts to ban smoking in restaurants. A former smoker, she sided with restaurateurs last year, helping defeat a proposed city ban. In 1987, however, she backed no-smoking areas.

Molina has seen a number of failures in her efforts to get laws passed.


In 1989, for example, she was the only council member to join Bradley in publicly urging voter passage of a $100-million city bond measure to strengthen earthquake-unsafe brick apartments.

The measure narrowly failed to receive two-thirds approval by voters. Molina and Bradley blamed its demise on lukewarm support from the council. The problem of earthquake-unsafe apartments remains one of the city’s thorniest issues.

Some of Molina’s pet efforts have been defeated by the council, including her motion last year to lower the salary scale of the council’s 15 chief deputies who work as aides to the council.

Molina wanted to rescind a new salary scale, which had been boosted by the council from about $50,000 to about $70,000. She contended that few council members understood what they had done.


And in 1989, Molina joined a handful of council members who fought unsuccessfully to stop the Community Redevelopment Agency from buying the Rescue Mission on Skid Row for $6.5 million. The agency wanted to move the mission from new developments and deeper into Skid Row.