By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
As election day nears, the greatest threat to the continued sway of Martin and his allies is Chris Patrouch. While incumbents Martin and Heilman seem headed for re-election, maverick Councilman Sal Guariello — nearing his 80th birthday — is vulnerable. And as a well-liked activist who ran for the council two years ago, Patrouch could be a permanent thorn in Martin’s side. Although young, Patrouch is an idealistic urban planner who likes to challenge mainstream orthodoxy.
As a foil to Patrouch, Martin enlisted Ruth Williams, a longtime neighborhood activist and four-time candidate, to run again. As in the last election, when he helped elect Jeff Prang, Martin has helped Williams raise money.
Although he has no record on rent control, Patrouch has been an active watchdog of the Santa Monica Boulevard plan and of development on the east side. Although mainly interested in "greening" West Hollywood with bike lanes and increased public transit, his campaign recently discovered the issue of campaign-finance reform.
"A lot of money coming in is from real estate developers," Patrouch said. "There is so much development out there, and it casts a shadow on the people making the decisions." Patrouch does not have a precise formula for reform, but supports limits on contributions, or a total spending cap. The most recent estimates have Martin raising $40,000, Heilman and Williams raising over $30,000 each. Patrouch, in contrast, has not broken $10,000 in contributions.
Williams and Martin, in a tactical move, have singled out Patrouch for considerable criticism. On campaign reform they accuse of him of grandstanding, saying they are not beholden to contributors. On most other issues, they say he has little experience or is out of touch with the needs of the city. While the differences between the two quasi-slates seem subtle, they were highlighted on Saturday by a Chamber of Commerce request that candidates rank a list of civic capital improvements. Martin and Williams rated new parking structures for shoppers near the top of their lists; Heilman and Patrouch preferred a new municipal library — the lowest priority for Martin. The answers reflect differing visions — Martin-Williams oriented to "business friendly" priorities, and Heilman-Patrouch to the city’s traditional commitment to local social services.
For her part, Williams has run into her own political problems. It was recently revealed that she has filed for bankruptcy twice in the past 10 years, the last time in 1997. She insisted, "It will have no impact on the kind of council member I will be."
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