With days to go before Tuesday's election, the hot contest for the 2nd District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is sending volleys of attack brochures to voters' mailboxes.
Both main contenders in the nine-candidate field are experienced leaders. State Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) served on the L.A. City Council before being elected to the Legislature, and Councilman Bernard C. Parks was previously chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. Until recently, the campaigns had focused largely on their own candidates' credentials.
Take one of the mailers sent by a labor alliance backing Ridley-Thomas, which says Parks opposes rent control. "Will More People Be Forced Out After the Election?" the brochure asks. (The county has not had rent control for its unincorporated areas for many years; supervisors have no jurisdiction over rent control measures in cities.)
The Ridley-Thomas campaign put out a mailer on healthcare services. "Bernard Parks is not prepared to save emergency care," the mailer says, going on to label the former police chief a "failed bureaucrat, unsuccessful administrator."
The Parks campaign has unleashed its share of attacks on Ridley-Thomas, in one case using the state senator's own words. A Parks mailer depicts a 2004 article by then-Councilman Ridley-Thomas, published in The Times' Opinion section, in which he defended Parks' record as police chief.
"After repeatedly praising Chief Parks, can we believe Mark Ridley-Thomas' negative campaign against him now?" the mailer says.
Parks campaign strategist John Shallman said in an interview that "the barrage of false accusations are coming from the same Mark Ridley-Thomas who endorsed Bernard Parks and [called him] . . . 'an honorable man with a strong work ethic.' "
"How can voters be expected to believe Ridley-Thomas' negative ads when he obviously doesn't really believe them himself?" Shallman said.
Parks delivered another zinger in a mailer that attacked Ridley-Thomas for his stance urging that the trauma center be closed at what was then Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.
"Mark Ridley-Thomas turned his back on our community when he spoke out in favor of closing the emergency room doors to thousands of patients," the mailer says.
Ridley-Thomas said he joined others to support closing the trauma center only as a way to save the struggling hospital. (It later closed.)
A Ridley-Thomas campaign spokesman said the mailers serve to highlight the differences between the two candidates as they compete to replace retiring Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke.
"I think in the course of nearly every political campaign, there's often a moment in time when you have to sharpen the contrast between your campaign and your opponents'," said the spokesman, Fred MacFarlane.