By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Goldberg’s Belmont record may well be the weak spot in her campaign armor. But it is interesting that, Belmont‘s origins aside, the two candidates do not have many major differences on educational issues. Both want to see more preschool programs to bring young children up to the demands of kindergarten and first grade. Both agreed in interviews that if the star-crossed Belmont complex’s gas problems can be mitigated for a reasonable cost, it ought to be used as a high school. Both agree on a need for smaller classes. Portillo generally wants to see fewer ”mega-schools“ like Belmont, and smaller high and middle schools. It is hard to find issues on which the two differ strikingly.
Indeed, there are parallels in the candidates‘ backgrounds. Thirty-five years ago, Goldberg, as a sophomore sorority-member Berkeley student, was enticed by the nascent Free Speech Movement into a lifetime of progressive politics. Portillo wasn’t much older himself when, he said, his concern for social struggle drew him away from the Jesuit order he was about to enter. Both are openly gay. Both have been involved in AIDS issues.
Indeed, apart from experience, their major difference seems to be one of personalities. Portillo is earnest, yet somehow restrained. But he seems to listen and to be better at responding to his questioners‘ interests than Goldberg, who can be boisterous but, in her own way, reticent. People who have worked with her at City Hall say it is sometimes hard to know just what she is up to. Some of her constituents claim she’s been close-mouthed about certain plans for her district -- the Costco development in Atwater is often cited as an example of this style. Goldberg claims that most of the project‘s neighbors favor the result of her planning. Depending on whom you talk to, she may or may not be promptly responsive to constituent concerns, but around City Hall, her office is notoriously slow at returning phone calls.
Others claim that, for a sometime radical, she gets unduly fixed in her views in a fashion some call ”dogmatic“ and others ”demagogic.“ Doubtless, she will never veer in her distrust of Mayor Richard Riordan. Goldberg, for instance, was a leader of the City Council’s Custerite opposition to the new, mayor-backed City Charter that was overwhelmingly passed by the voters last year. She still defends her position: ”We‘re already seeing the disaster,“ she said recently, and then, amazingly, cited as a fresh abuse of mayoral power the mayor’s firing of City Administrative Officer Bill Fujioka.
Reminded that Fujioka was still holding his job, she added, ”Only because the council wouldn‘t allow it.“ But if the council continues to check the mayor’s abuses of power, you might ask, then what Los Angeles city disaster are we seeing?
So the 45th District race seems to be between an eager newcomer with an ethnic edge against a seasoned officeholder who carries most of the endorsements. The question is, will the negatives of Goldberg‘s record be perceived as much as the positives of her accomplishments? And, for that matter, will Portillo’s ethnicity advantage in the 70 percent Latino district come close to offsetting Goldberg‘s massive labor support?