Times Endorsements

T he Times endorses selectively, on a case-by-case basis. Here are recommendations in Los Angeles' election Tuesday.

Mayor

Former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa and his rival, City Atty. James Hahn, are both able politicians and they hold similar views. Villaraigosa, with his demonstrated ability to bring together those with opposing positions and to build coalitions, is better equipped to help Los Angeles reach its full potential as the great American city modeled after no other. We like his energy and the audacity of his aspirations for the city. And not least, his campaign advertising has stayed more consistently on the high road than Hahn's, especially in the final week.

City Attorney

Mike Feuer. A City Council member since 1995 and former director of a public-interest law firm, Feuer would bring to the city attorney's office a record of problem-solving, solid leadership and management experience, as well as creative ideas to improve the quality of urban life.

Congress

32nd DISTRICT: Diane Watson. This veteran former state lawmaker faces opposition from Republican Noel Irwin Hentschel in a runoff in a district where winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to election. Watson has been the best choice in a field hard-pressed to measure up to the late Rep. Julian Dixon, who long and ably represented this Mid-City-to-Westside district.

City Council Races

DISTRICT 3: Judith Hirshberg. Hirshberg, vying against Dennis Zine to represent the south San Fernando Valley, stands out for the depth of her experience in the Valley and the breadth of her vision for Los Angeles.

DISTRICT 5: Jack Weiss. This Westside/Valley district is a demanding one to represent. Weiss is pitted in the runoff against Tom Hayden, a termed-out state senator and an admirable political professional. However, Weiss offers a stronger local commitment and has run a strong runoff campaign.

DISTRICT 9: Jan Perry. In a district that swoops from troubled parts of South Los Angeles to the high-rises of downtown, Perry is by far the candidate more able to spread economic revitalization. She also has creative ideas for greening neighborhoods and reusing vacant buildings.

DISTRICT 13: Michael Woo. A veteran who left the City Council before term limits, Woo ran in 1993 for mayor against Richard Riordan. In this Hollywood-to-Mt. Washington district, Woo is the better choice for his experience and political maturity. His opponent, newcomer Eric Garcetti, is energetic and smart but needs some seasoning.

DISTRICT 15: Janice Hahn. Her experience, especially on the elected charter commission and in community affairs, gives Hahn the edge over a likable newcomer, Hector Cepeda, in this Harbor/Watts/San Pedro district.

L.A. Unified School District

4th DISTRICT: Marlene Canter. She combines strong managerial and education experience with independence from the political forces buffeting the district.

Community College Board

OFFICE No. 6: Samuel J. "Joey" Hill. A politically experienced state legislative aide, Hill would bring useful Sacramento ties to the board.

Los Angeles Measures

Charter Amendment A: Yes. This measure would combine funds from city police and fire pensions to achieve money-saving efficiencies. It would also allow veteran police and firefighters to earn higher pension payments by continuing to work beyond 25 years, the current peak of pension earnings. Amendment 2 on the April ballot called for some modest pension incentives to retain officers past early-retirement age. This proposal takes a bigger step, allowing veterans to earn a pension of up to 90% of their salary if they stay on the force for 33 years. Charter Amendment A's cost savings from combining the pension funds should offset the expense of the richer pensions, at least for several years. In any case, it is a savings over the high and increasing cost of recruiting and training new officers. This measure would also bring Los Angeles pensions in line with those of other agencies that have been actively recruiting from L.A.'s Police and Fire departments.

Charter Amendment B: Yes. This corrects an unfairness by allowing widows and widowers of police officers and firefighters who remarried before Dec. 5, 1996, to collect spousal police and fire pensions. A previous ballot measure allowed those who remarried after that date to collect their former spouses' pensions.

The full text of endorsements is available at www.latimes.com/endorsements.

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