Candidates, including Venus DeMilo, gird for mayoral races
Venus DeMilo and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley have at least one thing in common. Both want to lead the second-largest city in the United States for the next four years. So, too, do seven others, including City Councilor John Ferraro. Not to be confused with the celebrated Greek statue of the same name, Miss DeMilo is a live political candidate who describes herself as a ``part-time clerk.''
Los Angeles is among some 1,200 cities across the US holding municipal elections elections this year.
Nationwide, nearly half of the 108 cities with populations in excess of 150,000 will have mayoral elections in 1985. Of the six US cities with more than a million inhabitants, four will elect mayors in 1985 -- New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Houston. The elections come at a time of increased concern over President Reagan's proposed sharp federal budget cuts in programs directly or indirectly aiding cities.
No one local issue appears to dominate. But municipal fiscal restraints; improved public safety; better streets, sewer systems, and water lines; and expanded economic development and job opportunities are among those most discussed.
Voters in more than two dozen communities -- from Burlington, Vt., where Socialist Mayor Bernard Sanders won a third two-year term, to Fresno, Calif., where Dale Doig was chosen to be the new mayor -- have filled their executive seats within the past 12 weeks.
In the April 9 Los Angeles election it will be Mayor Bradley against the field. If he can win 51 percent of the vote, the mayor will win his fourth consecutive term without a June 6 runoff. The large field, however, weakens his ability to accomplish this.
At this point Bradley, the city's first black mayor, holds a decisive lead over Mr. Ferraro in voter-preference samplings. The city councilor, a one-time All-American football star at University of Southern California, is generally viewed as the mayor's prime challenger.
Bradley's opponents charge his real goal is to seek the California governorship in 1986. As the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 1982 he narrowly lost to Republican George Deukmejian.
The mayor is under attack in some environmental circles for his January signing of an ordinance permitting oil drilling along the shoreline of Pacific Palisades, a scenic area overlooking the ocean.
In addition to Los Angeles, Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis, and San Antonio will have elections in April. Democratic Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr. of St. Louis faces Republican Curtis C. Crawford, a black, in that city's April 2 election. Blacks figure prominently in a number of mayoral contests.
For instance, in Oakland, Calif., first-term Mayor Lionel Wilson has six opponents including Wilson C. Riles, Jr., a former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, on the April 16 ballot. Mr. Riles and Mr. Wilson are black.
Dallas Mayor Starke Taylor is reaching for a second two-year term in the city's April 6 election. The strongest of three challengers appears to be City Councilor Max Goldblatt.
In San Antonio's April 6 mayoral election, incumbent Henry G. Cisneros, a Hispanic-American who two years ago won reelection with 94 percent of the vote and last year was under consideration by Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale as a running mate, is generally viewed as the front-runner. Former City Councilor Phil Pyndus is his chief ballot foe in the six-candidate field.
Mr. Pyndus is campaigning against a proposed $100 million municipal bond authorization for street and storm drainage improvements. Mayor Cisneros supports the bond issue and says its rejection would greatly diminish the importance of the mayor's office.
April municipal elections also are set in at least 16 other large cities -- those populations in excess of 100,000 -- including mayoral contests in Glendale and Pomona, Calif.; Peoria and Rockford, Ill.; Topeka, Kan.; Springfield, Mo.; Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Irving, and Waco, Texas; and Madison, Wis. Voters in Jersey City, N.J., and Omaha, Neb., will go to the polls in May to elect mayors.
Front stage in June municipal elections will be Jackson, Miss., which is switching from a commission-mayor setup to a council-mayor form of local government.
Most of the remainder of this year's municipal elections in big and medium-size cities are set for fall. The most notable exception is Mobile, Ala., where the balloting for mayor and other local officials comes in July.
A three-way race New York City's Sept. 10 Democratic mayoral primary is taking shape. Opposing Mayor Edward Koch in his bid for a third four-year term are City Council president Carol Bellamy and State Assemblyman Herman Farrell. No Republican, Conservative, or Liberal Party contenders have declared thus far. The various party nominees will square off in the Nov. 5 municipal election.
Considerable attention also will be focused on Houston, where second-term Mayor Kathryn Whitmire's reelection prospects may have been weakened by her support for a controversial city ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals in municipal employment. That measure, adopted last June, was wiped off the books by a better than 4-to-1 vote in a Jan. 19 referendum.
In Minneapolis, Mayor Don Fraser, a former Democratic congressman, has declared his candidacy for a third term in the city's executive chair. Keen opposition is expected.
Besides Bradley of Los Angeles, two other big-city black mayors -- Andrew Young of Atlanta and Coleman Young of Detroit -- are nearing the end of their current four-year terms and seem likely candidates for reelection next fall.
Other big-city mayors now strongly favored to win reelection next fall are Pittsburgh's Richard Caliguiri and Seattle's Charles Royer. City Councilor Richard Givens and two political newcomers are challenging Mayor Caliguiri for the Democratic nomination in the Pittsburgh's May 21 primary. Attorney Henry Sneath has a free ride for the Republican nomination.
Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich, a Republican seeking his third term, has at least three would-be Democratic successors in the political wings, including City Councilor Gary Kucinich, brother of former Mayor Dennis Kucinich, whom Mr. Voinovich unseated in 1978.
Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, who is expected to seek a seventh two-year term, already has three would-be challengers readying for the Nov. 5 primary.
Other cities among the nation's 100 largest with fall mayoral elections include: Phoenix, Ariz.; Louisville, Ky.; New Orleans; St. Paul, Minn.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Akron, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio; Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, N.Y.; and Charlotte, N.C. Map: US cities, population 300,000 or more, having mayoral elections in 1985: New York City Los Angeles Houston Detroit Dallas San Antonio Phoenix Cleveland Seattle St. Louis San Juan (Puerto Rico) El Paso Atlanta Pittsburg Cincinnati Fort Worth Minneapolis Buffalo Toledo (Ohio) Miami Austin (Texas) Oakland Albuquerque Charlotte (N.C.) Omaha (Neb.)
A story about candidates for mayoral races on Page 4 of Tuesday's paper contained an error. Wilson C. Riles Sr. was formerly California's superintendent of public instruction, not Wilson C. Riles Jr.