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Beverly Hills, California
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February 21, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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February 21, 2001
 

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11 Candidates. 0nly 3 Can Win. But Who Will It Be? By Amanda Michne Murmurs of lawn sign theft, raised eyebrows from finance reports, whis- pers about questionable strategy and stale gossip freshly spiced are buzzing around the Beverly Hills city council campaign. As the candidates dive into the final weeks of walking and debating, those on the sidelines wonder who will land a smooth finish and who will stumble into a freefall. The voter agenda remains the sanle: traffic, parking and business develop- ment. What issues are beating up for this election'? Will campaign spending be a boost c,r a bust'? Will endorsements matter? The Beverly frills Fire Association is endors- ing (Steve Webb, Linda Briskman and Mark Egerman) for the first time in eight years, said their president, Captain Ralph Mtmdell. This could be con sidered a slight to Tom Levyn, who along with Egerman, worked with the Association during their contract negotiations. But even the motivation of endorsements is subject to gossip. What about absentee voting? As of last Friday, the city clerk said they had received 2,771 requests tor absentee ballots. Assuming Ihat apploimately 60(X) residents will cast votes on March 6, almost half or more - could vote by mail. And with I I candidates vying for three seats, vote-splitting could lead to some interesting (and very close) results Two local elections in the last 1 I years have been decided by foul w~tes or less. The last school hoard elec- tion in 1999 was decided by 22 voles. Will the on-going D-Lot controversy punish the incumbent? Or will sta- bility get a vote of confidence? EOI!R MORE YEARS? One veleran ol Beverly Hills polilics pul il Ihis way: OI the people wh~ are expected t~ v~te. one-quarter vote Ibr the status quo. They don't want n~ see change. An equal number of pe~ple wtc t~r change because lhey reel alienated by the Councih Thai leaves aboul half of the w~ters in charge of th~ Oulc~me. S~mle argue thai Ihe s~alus quo is represented by the incumbents. Mark Egerman and ti,m l_cvyn, who ~dlen rellecl difl~rcnl civic philosc~phies, hul who botll glide thr,~ugh candidate h~rulns wdh Ihe rcas~ulmg benefit ,d ~he~r experience and acc,nnplishn~en~ Many pe~p~e have expressed c~,nlentment wdh the cure:n1 C~nmcd Stere Wehb and ~el "comforted" because Ihcy presenl a untied Ir~n~ and appear tl/work tl~gether/rclativcly~ well But. IJcvyn and Egerman also mull bear the hrunl of critlc~sln against the C~,unc~l And since Ihe tw,~ incumbenls arc ~ltell hlnlpcd t~gelher, could onl" dn,wning candidale drag ~he other duwn wilh him? Egernum T'qdeal w~rds used lt~ describe Ilim ale ~smart" and "good guy" Fte's been called a candl- Critics question his representation of Mayor Vicki Reynolds during her Arizona housing controversy, which gave the appearance (rightly e~r wrongly) of a conflict of inleresl, Egerlnan, who il re-elected will become mayor, must be considered a slrong fl'onF runner He can point to accomplishments, such planning new int)'aslrueture without raising Plus, he's running Ior only his second term. Levyn is running for his third term and Ihis mighl hur~ him more (ban anything else. since third term candidates are larely successful though Vicki 12 Beverly Hills Weekly K~I~I Haber Reymdds did win one in 1997 "]'he third-lerrn com- plaint also give~ detractors a diplomatic way of rejecting him. Still, t.cvyn has the benefit ol pa',l accomplishnlt~nts like the l~arnlers Market and t;Mucalion ("1~"~ Day and some rule hdn as (ine of the "grcalenl Cl~uncihltcliihers ever" Levyn h;ls dsu been praised Ibr standing tip to deveh)pers But dlerc are grtnnllling~, ihal heS; been preoccupied wilh his legal practice, whicll has grown slncc his Veals i/n clnl (h~tlnciI Odlers say he will sulvive Ihe elecli~n on sht:~ dclermination and call bhll n 'relentless" and ":n.tule" caMp:llgner t'~YIN(; I Ill,;ll/ HI t';s James B~ee Anotller savvy campaigner wht~ prnject~ all experienced inlage is t.mda Briskman. She ba~ been described as "bard working" and "respected " She is also well kn~,wn in lee conlnlunhy honl bel w~,rk ~n Ihe Iral~c and purkmg e~muni~sP~n. Ihc Beverly Hills Educali~n I'oundation and ~bc Maple (2enter S~mc say she deservc~ I~, win because ~he IJ~ "paid hcl dues ' Yet BTi~kman. who serves ,~n ~he phnming c~lw~nlli~si~fl. Ila~ al~ been cliticized by some lot being too "Lp~o-developmenl " She is conside~d a str~,ng fr~,nl i'anner, but voter perception ct~uld be a lilctor If she is perceived as all "insider" than she has all Ihe ~ther "e~tablishmenP" I~'ont-runners to con- tend wdh What tit any) are Ihe differences'? ,Steve Webb is trying to point ~henl ~uc. Some say he might be lrying to~ hard. Wc'bb, the currenl chair/If the planning comn~i~ion, has been. like Briskman. a "hard-working'" and "respected" community member, involved with the tratt~e and parking conunlssion, the Maple Center and Temple Emanueh among others. Also like Briskman. W~'bh "has come up through the ranks." But his willingness Io criticize the current Council (par~icu larly about the D-Lo~ and the money spent on the City Hall art gallery) led one person to label his campaign tactics as '~nasty~' (C~uld this be resentmenl ~f ~ne having the nerve to turn on one'~ own?) But, he is als~ described as having "across the board appeal." So, if an anti-statu~ qu~ sentiment ~s hrewing. Webh could win on a platform that i~ critical enough t~l ~he current C~uncd t~ please th~se wanting change, by a candidate who is