ELECTIONS : Attempt to Incorporate Lacks Single Rallying Cry

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Voters will decide whether to form Los Angeles County's 89th city in an incorporation measure on the June 2 ballot.

Also on the ballot, Hacienda Heights voters will be asked to choose a five-member City Council from among 16 candidates--should incorporation pass--and to decide whether future councils should be elected at large or by district.

If it becomes a city, the bedroom community of 52,354 residents would follow a trend of successful cityhood drives in Calabasas in the San Fernando Valley to Malibu to Laguna Hills in south Orange County.

"Only 11% of (Los Angeles County) is unincorporated," said Jim Baker, chairman of the Hacienda Heights Cityhood Committee. "To be part of the 89%, we can't go wrong."

But unlike incorporation activists elsewhere who were galvanized by runaway development, fear of annexation or a sewer project, those in Hacienda Heights concede there is no single burning issue that points the way toward local government.

Incorporation opponents say they don't need another layer of bureaucracy.

"The community runs along smoothly," said Charlie Gray. "What services are we missing?"

Two previous incorporation attempts were unsuccessful. In 1982, a cityhood election was canceled after county officials ruled that some signatures on a petition had been forged. A 1985 incorporation movement fell apart soon after it was launched.

Some in the pro-cityhood movement say their mission is to stop expansion of the nearby Puente Hills landfill. Others are calling for increased sheriff's patrols and repeal of a 5% utility tax in unincorporated areas. All point enthusiastically to a county study showing an incorporated Hacienda Heights would have a $2.2 million budget surplus.

A simple majority vote is needed to pass incorporation.

The Candidates * Lillian M. Avery is a personnel research consultant for job testing and employee selection programs. A board member of the Hacienda Heights Improvement Assn. in charge of environmental affairs, Avery has organized meetings to oppose the dump expansion. She said she would call for a disaster plan to coordinate public and private relief efforts in Hacienda Heights and a senior citizens advisory committee.

* Wil Baca, 51, was a leader in the cityhood movement. A self-described environmentalist, Baca has been active in efforts to shut the Puente Hills landfill. Recently, he discovered an apparent error in a report that underestimated the would-be city's utility tax revenue by $2.5 million. In 1990, he was an unsuccessful candidate in the Republican primary for the 52nd Assembly District. Baca favors repealing the 5% utility tax.

* Eugene Y. Chang, 35, an engineer in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, said his job has taught him about government and its pitfalls. "A lot of city councils are in trouble because city managers are controlling everything and show the council only what they want them to see," he said. Chang also said he would vote to repeal the utility tax.

* Dean DeGruccio, 29, is a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney handling family support cases. DeGruccio said he would, if elected, emphasize crime prevention programs, graffiti prevention and call for a two- or three-term limit on council members.

* George R. Hensel, 68, is president of five corporations, including the California Driving School and a real estate property management company. He said he would bring to a City Council his years of experience in organization and finance. Hensel served on Montebello's Planning Commission for six years.

* Pedro F. Lagrosa, 59, a family physician, emphasized a need for cities to help residents who need medical advice. "There are poor families living close to the freeway," he said. "I'm concerned whether they are getting proper health care."

* Jackie Graham, 57, is a speech pathologist who works with handicapped children in the Buena Park School District and chairwoman of the Republican Party's 52nd Assembly District Central Committee. She stressed the importance of funding programs for latchkey and underprivileged children, and services for senior citizens. "Writing grants is the way to get the money," she said.

* Gloria Nunes, 59, was treasurer of the cityhood committee and owns a travel agency. She ran unsuccessfully for the Hacienda La Puente School Board in 1987. Pointing to the need for a senior citizens center and aggressive graffiti and weed removal programs, Nunes said municipal government would be more responsive to its citizenry. She said she would not serve more than two terms on the council.

* David T. Romero, 47, a self-employed management consultant, said he was formerly opposed to cityhood but a report showing Hacienda Heights pays more taxes than it receives in services changed his mind. "This time I studied the issues," he said. "It's a matter of dollars and cents." He has served on the state Board of Education and the California-Mexico Trade Commission.

* Ellis Swing, 51, a businessman involved in international trade, said he would push for a trade and culture department that would act as an agent for local businesses that want to sell products overseas. The department would operate on a contingency basis, Swing said. "Hacienda Heights would be the pioneering city across the United States of America," he said.

* Bill Torres, 67, is a retired business manager for the Monrovia School District and a former member of the Hacienda La Puente Board of Education. He lost his reelection bid in December after serving five terms. "There is a pretty good slate of candidates, but I have one more dimension--experience," Torres said.

* C.A. (Bud) Welch, 59, is a retired supervisor for the Southern California Edison Co. and a reserve commander for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He is past president of the Hacienda Heights Improvement Assn. and chaired a citizens committee that studied the Puente Hills landfill expansion plans. He said he wants to shut the dump and pursue alternatives such as moving waste by rail.

* Diana E. Wood, 59, is a realtor who sells properties in Hacienda Heights. She is president-elect of two real estate associations and is active in several women's clubs. Wood, who served on the cityhood committee, said if elected she would keep costs down, possibly by renting space for City Hall instead of building one.

* Cecilia L. Yu, 48, an attorney, said her legal knowledge would be an asset to Hacienda Heights. "It will help the city to pass laws, regulations, codes, to make sure everyone's protected," she said. She is involved in United Way and the Hacienda Heights Chinese Assn., and provides free legal services to needy local residents.

Candidates Rudy Almeida and Charles M. House, 56, a sergeant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, did not return repeated calls.

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