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7TH COUNCIL DISTRICT: PADILLA, SANCHEZ AHEAD.

Byline: Yvette Cabrera Daily News Staff Writer

Alex Padilla and Corinne Sanchez - the two candidates with the biggest campaign war chests - led the field Tuesday in the northeast Valley's 7th Council District election and appeared headed toward a June runoff.

Padilla was running well ahead of Sanchez for the right to succeed former Councilman Richard Alarcon, who was elected to the state Senate. They combined for more than 75 percent of the vote in a field with six candidates on the ballot, plus two write-ins. The winner will fill the remaining two years of an unexpired term.

Padilla said he knew he was in a difficult battle and was pleased with the efforts made by his supporters.

``I knew going into the campaign that whoever won is the one who worked the hardest and I know my campaign has done that,'' said Padilla. ``We did absentee ballots, precinct walking, phone banking - everything was a big deal for us.''

Sanchez said she was looking forward to the possible June 8 showdown with Padilla.

``I feel very optimistic. I feel very strong. My support is very broad based,'' said Sanchez. ``It's all about getting my message to the voters. My goal is to stress my record.''

Padilla, 26, and Sanchez, 52, were considered the front-runners throughout the race because of campaign contributions and endorsements they garnered.

Sanchez raised nearly $280,000 and collected endorsements from Alarcon and some local unions, while Padilla collected more than $200,000 and endorsements from Mayor Richard Riordan and the lion's share of organized labor, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The other candidates were Raul Godinez II, a civil engineer and former mayor of San Fernando; youth services director Tony Lopez; governmental relations director Ollie McCaulley; and community activist Barbara Perkins, a community college executive assistant.

``We've always expected there would be a runoff, I think the thing that has surprised us the most is the margin of victory this evening,'' said Rick Taylor, Padilla's political consultant. ``We're looking forward to a very spirited eight weeks to talk about the issues of the northeast Valley and to talk about moving the district into the 21st century.''

Turnout in the 7th District was high. It trailed behind only the 10th and 14th council districts on Tuesday as overall turnout for the election appeared to be the best for a non-mayoral municipal election in 16 years, according to city figures.

Based on initial sampling taken throughout the day, 10.1 percent of the 7th District's voters had headed to the polls. Citywide voter turnout was running at about 20 percent, the best since 1983 when 23 percent of the voters went to the polls, city officials said.

The 7th District race was initially characterized by relatively tame candidate forums that focused on quality-of-life issues in the district, such as street sweeping, pothole repairs and community safety.

But in recent weeks, Sanchez and Padilla escalated their attacks in campaign mailers and letters sent to the media, criticizing each other on the issues of experience and campaign conduct.

The race was one of the more hotly contested races in the city because there was no incumbent.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1) Corinne Sanchez, right, gets her ballot from volunteer election worker Maria Medina in Sylmar.

Tina Gerson/Daily News

(2) Alex Padilla shakes hands with one of his volunteers on Tuesday.

Hans Gutknecht/Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 14, 1999
Words:568
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