Copyright 2001 / Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times

May 17, 2001 Thursday Home Edition

SECTION: California; Part 2; Page 4; Metro Desk

LENGTH: 691 words

HEADLINE: Los Angeles;

Special Election Is Called for Council Seat Held by Ferraro;
Politics: Eight candidates have filed for the Sept. 11 vote. The 4th
District seat was vacated by councilman's death.


The Los Angeles City Council ordered Wednesday a special election on Sept.
11 to fill the council seat of the late John Ferraro, a race that has
already attracted eight candidates, including former state Senate
President Pro Tem David Roberti.

Even before Wednesday's council action, fund-raising papers had been filed
with the city by hopefuls such as Roberti, Los Angeles Community College
Board member Beth Garfield, and former Ferraro aide Tom LaBonge.

Ferraro died April 17 after a long bout with cancer. He was 76 and had
served the 4th Council District for 35 years. His death triggers a special
election to fill out the nearly two years remaining on his term. City
Clerk Mike Carey estimated that 15 to 20 candidates will run for the seat,
and the special elections will cost $560,000.

If needed, a runoff election will be held Oct. 23.

"It will be a very competitive race, and it's going to be an expensive
race," said political consultant John Shallman, who is not affiliated with
any of the contenders. "There is still time for others to get in, but it
looks like a solid group of candidates so far."

Shallman predicted that the top candidates will exceed $1 million in
combined spending. He said Garfield and Roberti appear to have advantages
because of fund-raising ability and government experience, but he said
LaBonge also is a viable contender.

The district extends from Toluca Lake, Studio City and North Hollywood in
the San Fernando Valley to Hancock Park, the Miracle Mile, and parts of
Hollywood, Los Feliz and Silver Lake.

Garfield, an attorney and resident of Larchmont Village, said her
experience in turning around the financially troubled college district
will help her improve city operations.

"The city is really coming apart at the seams, fundamentally because of a
lack of basic city services," said Garfield, who is married to former
state Assemblyman Wally Knox.

Roberti, who served in the Assembly from 1967 to 1971 and the state Senate
from 1971 to 1994, is a Los Feliz resident who now serves on the state
Integrated Waste Management Board.

LaBonge said his seven years as an aide to Mayor Richard Riordan and 15
years working as Ferraro's chief field deputy give him the best
understanding of the district and its constituents.

"The big issue is who is best able to serve this district well," said
LaBonge, a Silver Lake resident who is director of community relations for
the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

LaBonge received a boost this week when Riordan threw his support behind
his former aide.

Riordan had been torn between LaBonge and city Library Commission
President David A. Lehrer, who with his fellow panel members renamed the
Central Library after Riordan last month.

"It breaks my heart not to support him, but Tom is my guy," Riordan said.
"Tom has been so loyal to me since I first ran for mayor that I've got to
support him."

But Riordan said he had not yet broken the news to Lehrer, the
Anti-Defamation League's regional director. And Lehrer insisted that
Riordan might still support him.

Other possible candidates who have not yet filed include mayoral chief of
staff Kelly Martin and Studio City Residents Assn. President Tony Lucente.

Several lesser-known community activists have filed papers to begin
fund-raising, including paralegal Denise Munro Robb, president of the
Miracle Mile Action Committee, who said that overdevelopment and historic
preservation are among the issues that most interest her.

Merle M. Singer, a resident of the Hollywood Hills, said running for the
council is a "natural progression" of her activism in the community to
improve the quality of life and reduce crime.

As a landlord in Hollywood, Singer heads the Yucca Corridor Coalition. She
also has served as co-chairwoman of the Community Police Advisory Board
for the Hollywood police station.

Fund-raising papers also have been filed by developer and former 4th
District candidate Benjamin Lucas, homeowner activist Linda Lockwood and
neighborhood leader Richard MacMinn.

Times staff writer Michael Finnegan contributed to this story.

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