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Incumbent mayor wins re-election in Los Angeles

April 9, 1997 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Mayor Richard Riordan, who told voters he delivered on his promise to turn the nation’s second-largest city around, was re-elected to a second term Tuesday over ’60s radical-turned-legislator Tom Hayden.

With all absentee ballots counted and 28 percent of the city’s precincts reporting, Riordan had 88,070 votes or 61 percent of the vote, to Hayden’s 50,338 or 35 percent.

Most of the early votes were from around the downtown area, neighborhoods where Hayden enjoyed his strongest support.

Two hours after the polls closed, Hayden thanked supporters who had joined him ``in trying to visualize and dream a dream of a livable L.A.″

``Whatever the outcome is tonight, we have to reach for that dream, because without dreams we are not human beings, and L.A. can never be a city of hope, only a place of survival and antagonism.″

The last time Los Angeles voters ousted a mayor was 1973.

The city clerk’s office had estimated no more than 35 percent of the 1.3 million registered voters would cast ballots in the nonpartisan election.

But just one hour before polls closed, only 19.6 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots.

Both candidates voted in their Brentwood neighborhoods early Tuesday.

The municipal elections, in which voters also were choosing City Council members and deciding voter initiatives, were marred by dozens of polling places opening late and some listed incorrectly on sample ballots sent to voters.

A Los Angeles Times poll released a week ago showed Riordan with 57 percent to Hayden’s 35 percent. But the poll also illustrated the city’s racial divide, with Riordan trailing 63 percent to 17 percent among black voters.

The race began with a focus mostly on the issues, but Hayden grew increasingly strident, last week calling the mayor a racist who abandoned the inner city. Hayden later apologized.

To his annoyance, Hayden’s background as a Chicago Seven defendant and ’60s rabble-rouser loomed as large as his current political persona, that of a 57-year-old liberal state senator who wears a suit and a neat haircut.

The white-haired Riordan, 66, comes off as a kindly senior citizen, devoid of charisma. His speeches are stilted and unpolished.

Riordan, elected the year after the 1992 riots, made expanding the police force a central theme of his first and second campaigns. During his first term, the police department grew by 2,000 officers _ short of the 3,000 he had promised to add or not seek re-election.

Riordan also said that under the business-friendly climate he has cultivated, unemployment and office vacancy rates have fallen and the whole city is benefiting from a ``Hollywood Renaissance.″ He pointed to expansions at Universal Studios and the Los Angeles airport and the planned DreamWorks studio development.

Hayden painted a starkly different picture, saying Riordan had abandoned the inner city and opened up the floodgates to development that would harm the environment and the city’s quality of life.