Reform Tops Tustin Victors' Agenda : City Council: Political newcomers Tracy Worley and Michael J. Doyle credit their upset of incumbents to support for term limits, ban on gifts.


Tracy Worley and Michael J. Doyle, who pulled off surprising upsets of incumbent City Council members in Tuesday's municipal election, said Wednesdaythat they will push for political reform once they take their posts.

"The voters want change, and that's what we're going to give them," said Worley, 37, a member of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission who emerged as the top vote-getter in the four-way race.

In ousting incumbents Leslie Anne Pontious and Charles E. Puckett, Worley and Doyle placed first or second in 16 of the city's 19 precincts and captured more than 50% most of the absentee votes. They will be sworn in Tuesday.

There was no consensus Wednesday on the reason for the challengers' lopsided victories. Worley and Doyle, who campaigned on a platform of establishing term limits, a ban of gifts to council members and limits on campaign contributions, said that the power of their message carried them into office.

"The citizens looked at what we have to say, and what we promised to do, and said, 'Yes, that's what we want,' " said Doyle, 51, owner of a local restaurant. "The (political) organization just helped put our message across."

Pontious declined comment Wednesday, but Puckett said he was swept from office by "anti-incumbent fever that is sweeping the country." He also credited his opponents for running a strong campaign.

"I don't think anybody could have done anything to stem the tide," Puckett said. "They were taking their tasks (in the campaign) with fervor and their volunteers were working night and day."

Others said that the endorsement by Mayor Jim Potts and the support of the police officers and city employees unions gave Worley and Doyle credibility and financial backing during the campaign.

"It was definitely an advantage," said Guido Borges, a member of the Tustin Residents Action Committee, which endorsed incumbents Pontious and Puckett.

Councilman Thomas Saltarelli said that Worley and Doyle ran strong campaigns, but the endorsement by Potts was a key factor in their victories. "He (Potts) is a very respected person in the community and carries a lot of weight," Saltarelli said.

Potts' endorsement has led to predictions that the mayor was attempting to create a three-vote bloc on the five-member council. Saltarelli, who may be chosen mayor when the City Council reorganizes on Tuesday, said he does not believe there will be a voting bloc that controls city decisions.

"Whoever sits on the council, historically, the decisions are 90% unanimous," Saltarelli said. "They make independent evaluations of the issues."

Councilman Jeffrey Thomas, however, said he is worried that he and Saltarelli could be the odd members out.

"I think I'll be somewhere in Siberia," Thomas said. "I see them retaliating against me . . . severely. They perceive me as being the bad guy somehow." Thomas did not elaborate, but said that he will try to work with the new council members "to form a solid council."

Worley said that she does not intend to retaliate against anyone.

"Any hatchet during the campaign has been buried, as far as I'm concerned," Worley said. "The task is serving the citizens, and I'm not going to worry who was pulling for who during the campaign."

James G. Rourke, the former city attorney who worked for the city for 34 years before retiring in January and serving as a consultant, said that "voting blocs don't last very long."

"It (City Council) is a nonpartisan body," he said. "People don't always come to the same conclusion."

During the campaign, Worley and Doyle said they would support a proposal long advocated by Potts to hire an in-house attorney, instead of keeping Rourke as a consultant.

But Doyle said that he wants to "look at the numbers" first before making a decision. He said the legal fees should be studied to see how the city could save money.

Rourke earns a minimum of $4,000 monthly as a consultant for the city. He said a city the size of Tustin cannot afford to have its own attorney.

Immediately after they are sworn in, Worley and Doyle will be involved in the preparation of the city's 1994-95 budget.

"It takes time to sort things and determine their (council members) priorities," City Manager William A. Huston said. "It's a learning process that the council and the staff go through together."

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