Alice E. DeLong has endured plenty of battles as Redondo Beach's city treasurer for 20 years, but she could be facing her toughest political challenge yet when voters go to the polls Tuesday.
Three candidates are running for the treasurer's post. Two City Council seats and two school board seats are also up for grabs. City Clerk John L. Oliver is running unopposed.
Despite accusations from city workers over the last year that DeLong, 61, has mismanaged the treasurer's office and has come to work under the influence of alcohol, the treasurer has run a low-key campaign, eschewing candidates forums. She plans to send out one campaign mailing. DeLong has denied the drinking and mismanagement charges and, in December, filed a libel suit against city officials.
"I think the big issue is whether the voters have been happy with the way the treasurer's office has been managed," she said. "We've done a good job on investments. If the voters don't know where I stand at this point, I don't know what else I can do."
While some local governments have lost money, Redondo has made $15 million on the city's $40 million in investments over the last five years, she said.
Challengers for the $78,600-a-year post have focused less on investment strategy than on the charges of internal strife.
Candidate Armando Herrera, 51, a revenue supervisor in DeLong's office, said the ongoing conflict between DeLong and City Manager William E. Kirchhoff, has disrupted work in the department. "I'm not involved with that kind of a conflict," he said.
Candidate Ernie O'Dell, 51, the city's Chamber of Commerce director, said he would use the management skills he gained from three years as a Hughes Aircraft employee relations representative to improve morale in the department. Chris Boyle, a 37-year-old accountant running as a write-in candidate, said he would hire several more workers to fill vacancies in the department. Boyle, a city activist, suffered a fractured skull in a skating accident over the weekend. He said he hoped to be released from a local hospital today and will continue his candidacy.
In the race for two council seats, seven candidates have debated how to pay for an estimated $16 million in repairs needed for the city's aging sewer system, as well as a host of other topics.
Four candidates are running for a seat in District 3, which includes the south-central portion of the city. Councilman Stevan Colin will leave the position because term limits bar him from seeking reelection.
If elected, Steve Bopp, a 46-year-old sales representative, said he would work to ensure that the council makes no cuts to city services. In addition, he said, he would try to attract several upscale restaurants to the city pier, which is under construction.
Frank Bostrom, the 45-year-old owner of an architectural firm who was defeated in a bid for the mayor's seat six years ago, said he opposes taxing residents to pay for sewer repairs, adding that he believes the work should be completed in small portions to save money.
Focusing on violence, William N. Gaillard, a 42-year-old Libertarian who has run unsuccessfully for a state Assembly seat three times, has campaigned as a strong supporter of Proposition E, a local ballot measure to ask state legislators to make it easier to carry a weapon. Gaillard also has called for the removal of City Manager Kirchhoff, who Gaillard said is responsible for declining morale among city employees.
Engineer Mike Gin, who also supports loosening gun control laws, believes the council must look for ways to cut costs. The 32-year-old, who runs a small mail-order business, said he would set aside time every month so citizens could meet with him to discuss city issues.
In District 5, the northernmost section of Redondo, incumbent Marilyn White faces two challengers, Kim Marie Lewis, a 34-year-old engineer, and Barry J. Brennan, a 27-year-old businessman.
White, 66, emphasized the need to make repairs to the city's sewer system and spare the city unnecessary costs. If reelected, she said, she would continue to take moderate stands on city issues. "All I've tried to do is take a good, clear and moderate approach to the votes I've made," she said.
Lewis said her engineering background would help her resolve issues surrounding sewer repairs. Any proposed tax increase to pay for the repairs should be put to a vote of the residents, she said. She opposes Proposition E.
Brennan, who had emergency surgery recently, has not campaigned.
Eight candidates are competing for two seats on the city's Board of Education. The candidates include incumbent Tom Downs; Ron Cawdrey, a retired technician; Mary Laughton, a business owner; David Moseid, a 46-year-old contractor; Charles Pulford, a 39-year-old mechanical contractor; Judy Swanson, a homemaker whose husband, Bart, is a board member who decided not to seek reelection; D. Zeke Zeidler, a children's court attorney, and William Wiener.