The three major candidates for Los Angeles city attorney declined Wednesday to side with those seeking to carve out a separate city in the San Fernando Valley, but they all promised to make sure the process to decide is fair.
A question about how they would handle secession efforts underway in the Valley and elsewhere was the first one raised at a noon candidates forum held in Granada Hills by United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley.
"I'm not a fan of secession, but I'm also scrupulously fair," City Councilman Mike Feuer told about 50 members of the umbrella organization that calls itself the Voice of Valley Business.
"I think it's very important that the city attorney play a role in assuring that there be a fair election," Feuer said. He added that it was his council motion that led to the city's dropping its insistence on City Council veto power over secession as lawmakers in Sacramento crafted legislation to govern a breakup bid.
Deputy City Mayor Rocky Delgadillo--whose boss, Mayor Richard Riordan, strongly opposes secession--said he believes that voters should have the opportunity to decide whether they want a new city.
Having said that Delgadillo indicated that he has reservations about the secession movement.
"We cannot be this great capital city of the 21st century if we divide ourselves in half, even if we could determine that the services would be better. . . . I don't think we could emotionally be this great place," or have as much clout with Pacific Rim trading partners or other countries, he said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Lea Purwin D'Agostino also said she believes that the city would have more influence and its communities be less balkanized if it remained one municipality.
But the important thing, she said, is to have a city attorney who will carry out the voters' will, assuming that the issue, now under study by an independent government agency, reaches the ballot and is approved.
"I will give you my personal assurance . . . that I will do absolutely nothing to prevent it from occurring," D'Agostino said. "I will not tie it up in the courts, and I will give the voters what they want. If that's what they want, then that's what they should have."