A Police Department feud and Downey's economic problems are the issues that have driven most of the candidates in the City Council election into two camps--one backed by police officers and the other supported by influential business leaders and a fledgling citizens group.
Nine candidates will by vying Tuesday for four council seats. Only the post held by Councilman Robert S. Brazelton, whose term expires in 1994, is not up for election.
The Downey Police Officers Assn. has thrown its support behind candidates in three of the districts.
They are Councilwoman Diane P. Boggs, who is seeking reelection to a third term in District 1; Gary McCaughan, a member of the Planning Commission who is running in District 3, and Joyce L. Lawrence, a planning commissioner seeking a seat in District 5.
Council members Robert G. Cormack and Barbara J. Hayden decided not to seek reelection to their District 3 and District 5 seats.
Backing a different set of candidates are Edward DiLoreto, one of the founding members of Citizens for Downey, a business group; Ronald A. Kolar, a prominent businessman and civic leader, and Downey Taxpayers United, a residents group.
They support Johnette Stickel, a community volunteer who opposes Boggs; James M. Derry, an administrator who faces McCaughan, and Steve Allen, a planning commissioner who is running against Lawrence.
They also are endorsing Councilwoman Barbara Riley, who is being challenged by real estate broker Toby Mileski for her District 2 seat.
Riley and Mileski are vying to fill the final two years of former Councilman Roy L. Paul's term. Paul resigned last year to become a Municipal Court commissioner, and the council appointed Riley to the District 2 seat pending the election.
The Police Officers Assn. did not take a position in the District 2 race.
In addition to Mileski, there is one other candidate who is not supported by either faction--Harry W. Hem, the vice president of a wood manufacturing company. He is running against McCaughan and Derry in District 3.
The feud between Police Chief D. Clayton Mayes and his rank-and-file is one of the issues fueling the campaign.
Sgt. William M. Hadley said the police association decided to get involved in the election because the City Council, with the exception of Boggs and Brazelton, largely ignored the officers' complaints about Mayes. They criticized the chief as a nit-picking administrator who has destroyed morale by favoring certain officers. The chief has refuted the allegations.
Hadley said the council majority moved to address the complaints only after the police association called for Mayes to be fired in April, 1991. A mediator was called in, and a fragile truce resulted.
"It's not so much sympathy we're looking for," Hadley said, "we're looking for openness (on the City Council)."
The police union has endorsed candidates in previous council campaigns, but the group has never made its presence felt as much as this year. By election day, the group will have sent more than 30 off-duty officers, plus retired officers, into Downey neighborhoods to drum up support for its three candidates.
That has raised the ire of some residents, including Joseph A. Lumsdaine, a Downey lawyer. Lumsdaine, whose wife, Dianne, sits on the Planning Commission, countered the police association's involvement by forming Downey Taxpayers United in March. Lumsdaine said more than 100 residents belong to the organization, which does not want city employees to control a council majority because the council approves employee pay salaries.
Lumsdaine said he fears that, if elected, the three candidates supported by the officers would vote to fire Mayes and perhaps even City Manager Gerald M. Caton.
Lumsdaine said Taxpayers United members will walk their neighborhoods to seek support for their candidates.
"Our group does not want to take a position on the police chief or the city manager," Lumsdaine said. "But that should be reviewed by an independent City Council, not council members who got their seats as the result of a city employees group."
Kolar, the head of a local property management company, has donated nearly $500 to Allen's campaign for the District 5 at-large seat. Kolar said he also is backing Derry, who is seeking to represent the district that includes Kolar's home.
Downey is divided into four districts, and only the residents of those districts may decide who will be their council representative. But all Downey voters may cast votes to decide who will sit in the at-large District 5 seat.
Kolar said he is only getting involved in the races in which he can cast a vote.
Kolar is active in the foundation that raises money to benefit Downey Community Hospital and with the local YMCA, and his endorsement is considered to carry considerable clout.
"(The police officers) should not try to run the government as a union," Kolar said. "I could just see our military out walking for a particular candidate."
Boggs, Lawrence and McCaughan said they would be open to hearing officers' concerns if they are elected. But they said they made no promises to secure the endorsement. Boggs' son, Garth, is a Downey policeman.
Police union spokesman Sgt. Robert J. Grandolfo said there were still some concerns about the way Mayes runs the department. But Grandolfo said it was not the group's objective to seek the dismissal of the chief or city manager.
The city's recession-related financial problems are another point of division.
Sgt. Hadley said the officers association sees its three candidates as the best qualified to help the city shore up its finances. In the past year, the city has lost three car dealerships that generated more than $1 million a year in sales taxes, which help pay the salaries of officers and other city employees.
So far, city officials have been able to cut expenses without laying off employees. A hiring freeze is in place, employees went without raises this year, and the proposed budget for next year includes no raises.
"We're concerned about our jobs in the future," Hadley said. "If the community doesn't have the money to support a good, first-class police department, we're going to suffer."
But DiLoreto, a founding member and leader of Citizens for Downey, said the police officers are backing the wrong candidates. Citizens for Downey, as a group, did not make a formal endorsement, he said.
DiLoreto, president and owner of Yale Engineering, which manufactures machine parts, contends that Downey business and development regulations are too restrictive and expensive.
DiLoreto said Boggs, who is finishing her eighth year on the council, is part of the problem. He said her challenger, Stickel, and the three other candidates he is backing will be more pro-business than their opponents. DiLoreto and his family members have donated a total of $2,900 to the four candidates.
"The City Council in the last eight years has ruined the city," DiLoreto said. "We should sweep the place clean."
So far, Lawrence has developed the largest campaign war chest. The candidates reported raising the following campaign funds as of May 16:
Lawrence--$17,171, including $6,700 of her own money. Her donations include a $1,000 donation from Bob Verderber, Diane Boggs' husband, and donations from community leaders, such as a $100 donation from Downey school board member Margo Hoffer.
McCaughan--$14,841, including $100 of his own money. Downey Police Lt. John Finch, McCaughan's campaign treasurer and a longtime friend, donated $100. A number of area doctors donated to McCaughan, a Downey anesthesiologist.
Allen--$14,397. The DiLoretos donated $750. Kolar donated $499.
Derry--$14,200, including $3,000 of his own money. The DiLoretos donated $1,075.
Riley--$10,162, including $7,375 of her own money. She received a $500 donation from DiLoreto.
Boggs--$10,500, including $2,500 of her own money. Finch and Hoffer each donated $100 to Boggs' campaign.
Stickel--$9,915, including $6,181 of her own money. DiLoreto donated $580 to the campaign.
Mileski--$6,193, including $3,800 of his own money.
Hem--$1,347, including $850 of his own money.
Downey City Council
Downey population: 91,444
Election: June 2
On the ballot: Nine candidates for four district seats
Diane P. Boggs
Occupation: Administrative director of health care program
Remarks: "The biggest challenges the city faces are economic, and the prevention of the spread of crime, drugs and gang activity. Without money you can't do anything. We are slowly starting to recover from the recession. I don't believe there is a great deal of waste in the budget. That's been cut out in the past two years." The city has had a hiring freeze since the beginning of 1991, and city officials continue to look for ways to reduce operating expenses, she said. "It is irresponsible to imply that you can have numerous public services, and they will be free. You have to expect a cost. I think it's important we keep up the quality of our services. One of the most important is the public safety services. And I'm not going to let the community services, like the library, suffer. We're going to need some continuity on the council. My goals are to keep Downey a clean, safe place to live."
Occupation: Retired, community volunteer
Remarks: "Many demographic changes have taken place in our city, and the City Council must be sensitive to the needs of our diverse people. I have a real concern for all citizens in our community. Rule by a few has been the system in Downey for a number of years. The bureaucratic take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward businesses has to end." If elected, she would recommend that the city provide to the council a quarterly report on revenue generated by the city, she said. "I promise to provide efficient, courteous and expeditious service to the public. We need to keep residents well-informed on important issues and decisions. We need to strive for a more efficient and responsive city government for meeting the needs of the citizens and business owners in Downey. Don't tell a business owner he can't have a sign. Show him what's possible, what can be done to help grow his business. We need more businesses in Downey. We've got to start offering solutions to business owners."
Occupation: Substitute schoolteacher for Downey Unified School District
Remarks: "We've got to come up with a balanced budget and continue to provide services with our income. I feel it's important to keep a high level of police, fire, street, public health and safety services. To do that we have to encourage business and industry to stay in Downey. I know the needs of the children. I know the needs of the schools and citizens, and can relate their goals to the City Council." Riley was appointed to the District 2 council position to replace council member Richard Carter, who resigned in 1991. Long trains blocking city intersections is a problem she feels needs to be corrected. "We need area policing. When long trains block every intersection in Downey, sometimes for eight to 10 minutes, the police can't get to the southern part of the city. We need to keep Downey the same desirable community, with a commitment to serving the people."
Occupation: Real estate broker
Remarks: "We need the ability to communicate well with business owners and residents for the city to prosper. I have high energy and new ideas to offer. The city has to cut out unnecessary spending and start more community programs for youth and seniors. The city staff and council members should be accountable for their actions to the public. We've got to abolish the negative atmosphere that exists within City Hall." He said the city's 3% utility users tax, originally passed in 1990 to pay for increasing the number of police officers, should either be rescinded or the money generated by it should be used to hire additional police officers. "We need to increase the visibility of police officers. Without that, crime and gangs will continue to exist in Downey. Besides attracting new business, we've also got to keep the businesses we have here in Downey."
Harry W. Hem
Occupation: Vice president of a manufacturing company
Remarks: "If businesses are not found, Downey will be unable to maintain current service levels. We need strategies to attract new business to the community. The city makes this difficult. We need to speed up the permit process and actively seek new businesses. I know what business needs and can help city staff do what they need to do." Although the city has already cut the budget, Hem suggests officials look at all city departments to ensure spending is effective and efficient. "I have a growing concern about gang activity. I believe the city needs to pay more attention to our youth. We have a lot of service organizations, but when they get to the teen-agers, we don't have much for them. We need a community center focused on providing something for youth. I've stepped forward because I'm concerned about the city. I'm just the guy across the street. I love and care for my city."
James M. Derry
Occupation: Director of customer services for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Remarks: "We have to keep businesses thriving and attract new businesses to the area. Redevelopment is a key part of that. My strength is in dealing with people, whether it be large or small businesses or residents of the community. I believe those strengths fit the weaknesses we currently have. I can not only solve problems but help restore Downey's prosperity." Personnel problems within the Police Department need to be addressed, he said. "My immediate goals are to develop a plan for redevelopment and get that under way. Secondly, I would like to see the city manager's and department heads' pay be based on achieving specific goals set out by the council. These are the foundation of bringing prosperity back to Downey. I don't think there are any problems we can't resolve as long as people will sit down and talk to one another."
Remarks: "We no longer encourage volunteerism like we used to. We need responsible leadership, community and neighborhood involvement. Local government needs to be more friendly to get the community back into participating. Downey is neighborhoods. We need to make sure we have the proper focus on them. We should bring back neighborhood councils. They could keep their council member informed. We also need a better relationship with our school district. It's the only way we'll keep our city strong." Fiscal responsibility is also a concern. "We need a prudent spending plan; we can only afford to spend on what we really need. I propose innovation, not taxation. We should focus on efforts for the near future, and we should get those projects, like renovating the downtown area, done. We also need to maintain our commercial areas. I've lived here all my life. I'm new blood with old roots."
Joyce L. Lawrence
Occupation: Marketing communication specialist
Remarks: "The main challenge we have to face is finding ways to cut expenses, because the city has less money to work with. We've also got to revitalize Downey's economic base by broadening our retail and industrial businesses. We need to find out what kind of businesses and industry would be best for our city, and then find out how to get it. We haven't been thinking creatively enough." Lawrence suggests more town hall meetings and community forums to get ideas from the public. "I've worked elbow-to-elbow with business owners in this town and I'm trusted. I have a zest for public service. I enjoy it. I'd like to have City Council meetings broadcast on cable television so all could be informed. We've got some big issues facing us, and we've got to be ready to work on those instead of fighting with each other."
Occupation: Bank vice president and branch manager
Remarks: "Recovering Downey's economic stability is the paramount issue. Business after business has moved out because they cannot overcome the bureaucracy at City Hall. We are losing jobs and revenue because of the city's reputation for unreasonable enforcement of ordinances. We need to find solutions for business investment. I would like the city to explore the possibility of Downey joining with other neighboring cities in establishing a Regional Enterprise Zone. It could open up a whole new avenue for business investment in Downey, with tax and hiring incentives that could bring needed revenue to city coffers and jobs to our community." Allen also believes the city would function more efficiently if there was harmony in City Hall. "It appears that some employees seem to have difficulty understanding who's in charge. The taxpayers, through the agency of their City Council, are who are in charge."