JOE BEL BRUNO Staff Reporter
With all but one incumbent seeking reelection, the April 8 primary races for eight Los Angeles City Council seats are shaping up as decidedly one-sided affairs.
The one exception is in the 11th City Council District. With longtime Councilman Marvin Braude retiring, the right to represent some of the city’s richest neighborhoods including Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and the Mulholland Drive corridor is up for grabs.
Most of the attention in the April 8 primary is focused on Georgia Mercer of Tarzana, a former aide to Mayor Richard Riordan, and Cindy Miscikowski of Brentwood, Braude’s former chief of staff.
“I know who the front-runners are Mercer is hand-picked by Riordan and Miscikowski is hand-picked by Braude,” said Russ Cook, a former city animal regulation commissioner who is one of seven other candidates in the race.
“Are they any different? They are selling the same things, and voters might just surprise them,” Cook added.
Mercer and Miscikowski are the only candidates so far to raise substantial campaign funds.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Mercer raised more than $103,000 through Dec. 31, while Miscikowski had raised more than $167,000.
Among the other candidates, only Cook filed a campaign statement and that only was to state that he expected to raise less than $1,000 in campaign contributions.
In addition to their campaign funds, Miscikowski and Mercer stand out in part because of their ties to City Hall.
Miscikowski has been endorsed by Braude. Mercer served one year as Riordan’s representative to area women’s groups (although Riordan has not yet made an endorsement).
Because the district straddles the Santa Monica Mountains, some see it as a battle between the Valley and the Westside.
“We’d like to see someone from the Valley representing this seat,” said Bob Scott, who is tracking the April municipal elections for the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.
Miscikowski, however, says that her 15-year career as Braude’s chief of staff prepares her to represent Valley issues.
“I have no problem in a sense of familiarity of representing both areas I’m no stranger to the Valley,” she said. “The issues no matter where you live will cross over. This district might be split, but it will take efforts coming from both sides of the hill to overcome problems.”
In addition to Brentwood and Pacific Palisades, the district includes the San Fernando Valley area west of the 405 Freeway and south of Ventura Boulevard, as well as the Van Nuys Civic Center area.
The issues in the race are expected to include city charter reform, the right to vote on Valley secession, the future of Van Nuyss Airport and civic center and the Ventura Boulevard Specific Plan.
Mercer and Miscikowski have yet to stake out conflicting stances on any of those issues.
Both, for example, say they will vote in favor of an April 8 ballot measure to create an elected charter reform commission with power to put reforms directly to the voters.
At the same time, both support a rival commission appointed by the City Council that can only recommend changes. Both say the positions are not contradictory.
“A discussion about having charter reform is healthy, no matter what commission it’s coming from,” said Mercer.
Miscikowski believes that “anything these two commissions disagree on is what should be sent to the voters.”
On the proposed Van Nuys Airport expansion, Mercer and Miscikowski advocate growth to help area businesses. However, they agree that steps need to be taken to insure that growth doesn’t mean more noise.
“I think the expansion has to be done,” Mercer said. “I’m aware that a lot of business people link the airport with economic growth. But, we need to regulate noise by compromise.”
According to Miscikowski: “We must accept and understand that noise has to be managed, but at the same time let growth occur under constraints.”
Both want to see a revitalization of Van Nuys Civic Center, as well as the installation of Business Improvement Districts in the surrounding area.
In addition to Cook, the other candidates in the race are:
– Mark Isler of Van Nuys, a businessman and commentator;
– Scott Wagenseller of Brentwood, a businessman;
– Craig Steven Bloom of Woodland Hills, a lawyer;
– Doug Friedman of Brentwood, an adminstrator, and
– James Watt McCormick of Pacific Palisades, a businessman.
If no candidate wins a majority, the top two vote-getters will square off in the June final election.
Here is a roundup of other City Council races:
– 1st District: Incumbent Mike Hernandez will face Gilbert Carrasco, an administrator; Rose Marie Lopez, a retired council deputy, and Jean Durand, a businessman.
– 3rd District: Incumbent Laura Chick faces one challenger businessman Mort Diamond.
– 5th District: Incumbent Mike Feuer is being challenged by real estate manager Elijah Rosenberg. Real estate consultant Jeff Brain, who had previously declared his intention to challenge Feuer, withdrew his candidacy in order to run for the elected charter reform commission.
– 7th District: Incumbent Richard Alarcon faces businessman Ollie McCaulley of Panorama City.
– 9th District: Incumbent Rita Walters is opposed by human rights activist Addie Miller, Los Angeles police officer Peter Torres, contractor Ben Veal and consultant Floyd Ray Frazier.
– 13th District: Incumbent Jackie Goldberg faces legal secretary Patricia Jean Parker, public relations specialist Ted Neubauer, garment worker Gale Shangold and Jacqueline Shabel, an entertainment industry executive.
15th District: Incumbent Rudy Svornich Jr. is opposed by Mujahid Abdul-Karim, a minister, Diana Elizabeth Contreras, an executive assistant, community advocate Desiderio Chavez and Dennis Kortheuer, a university instructor.
Business Journal staff reporter Daniel Taub contributed to this story.