Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Newcomers Expected to Split Lancaster Council

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The days of virtual consensus among City Council members here may be over with the election of two newcomers who often have been critical of past council actions.

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Michael Singer and homeowner activist Deborah Shelton were elected Tuesday along with one incumbent, the Rev. Henry Hearns, to fill the three available seats.

In an election with 29,222 votes cast, Singer garnered 5,421 votes; Hearns, 3,993, and Shelton, 3,751. Incumbents Arnie Rodio and George Root were both ousted, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively with 2,779 and 2,759 votes, in a field of 13 candidates. Challenger Ron Thomason finished fourth, capturing 3,438 votes. The remaining votes were split among the seven other candidates.

"I expect Deborah (Shelton) and I will, in all probability, remain as closely aligned as we are at this point," Singer said.

Singer said they both expect more split votes from the new council, which will be sworn in Tuesday. "A 5-0 vote only represents one viewpoint," Singer said.

Hearns, who with four years experience will become the senior council member, figures the election of Singer and Shelton will make his role as self-appointed peacemaker even more important.

Councilman George Runner, who is not up for reelection until 1996, is doubtful the election will result in much change. Outgoing council members Rodio and Root both expressed concern about the two new members' impact.

"I know they're planning some changes," Rodio said. "I hope they take their time and do it in the proper manner."

Both ousted incumbents blamed their losses on the city's retail incentive program and in particular a plan they and the other council members approved last year to give a chain pet-supply store $187,500 in redevelopment funds over several years to persuade the company to open a Lancaster store.

Rodio, a retired business owner, said he plans to take some time off before deciding how he will stay active in the community. Root said he will retire, travel and probably stay out of local politics.

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