The races in districts 2 and 4 are wide-open contests that are expected to result in runoffs. Neighborhood preservation, including reducing crime and traffic, is a key issue in the middle-class districts.
After three terms, Cole decided against seeking reelection in District 2, citing a need for new blood at City Hall. Cole has sponsored several forums to give the public a chance to get a good look at the six candidates seeking to replace him.
But Cole has vowed not to endorse anyone in the race, with one caveat: "If there's some ugly last-minute dirty trick, I might take a role in the campaign," he said.
Mark R. Nay, an architect and chairman of the city's Design Commission, was first to declare his candidacy and is considered one of the front-runners.
Nay said he wants to restore stability and professionalism to City Hall. "The poison in the council chambers is spilling over into the management and personnel of the city," Nay said. "It scares off business and it gets in the way of balanced discussion of what are the legitimate needs of the city."
Paul Little, communication coordinator for Pasadena's Pacific Asia Museum, also is considered a top contender, along with Douglas B. Robertson, an architect and vice chairman of the city's Planning Commission.
Little said he will focus on public safety if elected.
"I want to find funding in the budget to add police officers," Little said. "At the same time we need to look to youth programs . . . to provide kids with alternatives to gangs and drugs."
Robertson said he will first concern himself with making City Hall more user-friendly. That would include working toward a simplified city budget that would enable the average citizen to understand how tax dollars are spent.
"It's very difficult for people to make the kinds of judgments . . . to allocate our resources," Robertson said.
James Lomako, a city human relations commissioner; Ted Brown, an insurance claims adjuster, and James C. Brownfield, a teacher at Cal State L.A., round out the field.
Lomako proposes to dust off a dormant development plan to attract more business to East Washington Boulevard, a street of aging small businesses. Among other things, the plan would add parking and beautify the boulevard.
"It will attract investment and customers," Lomako said.
Brown, a Libertarian, wants to cut taxes if elected. He opposed, for example, the city's library assessment tax, which is due to phase out in 1998. If residents want to maintain services after that, cuts should be made to free up money so the library tax won't be necessary, he said.
"There needs to be a council member who looks after the interests of taxpayers," Brown said.
Brownfield could not be reached for comment.
Not pictured: James C. Brownfield