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English Immersion Wins in S. Calif.

November 5, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Bilingual education proponents failed to send the message they had hoped for in conservative Orange County, while voters in Riverside and Ventura opted not to elect a fugitive and a homeless man to public office.

Elsewhere Tuesday, Santa Barbara’s mayor was re-elected, several school and college districts received support for bond measures and San Diego County voters endorsed special taxes for fire prevention.

Thousand Oaks residents decided against recalling a councilwoman, and Ventura voters selected four new council members from a field of 10.

In Orange and surrounding areas, with all votes counted, 14,354 voters _ 86 percent _ approved the Orange Unified School District’s decision to replace its bilingual program with an ``English immersion″ method. Fourteen percent, or 2,249 votes, were against the district’s move.

The non-binding advisory vote simply sent a message to school board members about whether voters agreed with the board’s decision to eliminate bilingual education for students in kindergarten through third grade for the current school year. Hispanic activists had hoped voters would reject the board’s decision, which they say would put non-speaking English students at a disadvantage.

The vote was widely watched across the state and nation as a gauge of public opinion on the divisive issue. It may foreshadow next year, when bilingual education is likely to be put to a statewide vote.

In the Riverside mayoral election, incumbent Ron Loveridge beat three candidates, including a convicted felon who has been a fugitive since last month.

Loveridge won with 13,281 votes, or 57 percent, while former mayor Teresa R. ``Terry″ Frizzel garnered 8,951 votes, or 38 percent. Steven P. Torres trailed with 670 votes, or about 2.8 percent, and Gary R. Huspek, a quality control analyst, received 592 votes, about 2.5 percent.

Police said Torres failed to appear in court when he was convicted by a jury of assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities said the 22-year-old candidate stabbed a man at a shopping mall in 1995, but Torres claimed the man injured himself.

In Santa Barbara’s mayoral election, incumbent Harriet Miller won with 66 percent, or 11,315 votes. City Councilwoman Helene Beaver followed with 29 percent, or 4,956 votes, and William Hackett trailed with 916 votes, or 5 percent, in his fifth run for mayor.

In Ventura, 10 candidates vied for four seats on the seven-member council, including a homeless man making his third run for the office. The top four vote-getters got the job.

With all the votes counted, the winners were restaurateur Sandy E. Smith with 17.5 percent of the vote, businessman Brian Brennan with 15 percent, incumbent Jim Monahan with 14.5 percent and local businesswoman Donna De Paola with 12.6 percent.

Brian Lee Rencher, a homeless candidate, took only 5.8 percent of the vote. Rencher, 37, has been homeless for 18 years. He works temporary jobs to earn $600 in monthly living expenses and is working on his master of business administration degree.

In Thousand Oaks, an effort to recall City Councilwoman Elois Zeanah failed with 67 percent of the voters casting their ballots in her favor. Zeanah’s term expires next year.

A recall committee spent more than $288,000 to force the recall election. Zeanah supporters contended her foes chose to recall her instead of fighting her re-election to get around strict contribution limits.

The recall grew out of a contentious split in the city over whether to expand Thousand Oaks’ sewer plant. Zeanah, a two-term councilwoman, and another council member opposed the sewer expansion for two years, but Zeanah eventually voted for the project this summer.

Critics said the delay cost the city millions of dollars in bond costs and fines. They also accused her of erratic behavior.

Residents in communities across Los Angeles County also voted on bond measures ranging from $15.5 million for a new middle school in Lancaster to $240 million for aging facilities in Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre, with early returns showing support for the measures designed to fix and expand schools.

Final results were not immediately available.

Nearly 68 percent of voters in Pasadena approved the measure in early returns, and nearly 78 percent of Las Virgenes voters showed support for a similar school measure there. School bond measures also were winning by more than 73 percent in Eastside Union and 80 percent in El Segundo.

The bond measures required two-thirds approval for passage. In early returns, only 52 percent supported a school bond issue for Bassett Unified, nearly 60 percent in Lawndale, more than 60 percent in Torrance and more than 51 percent in the Mount San Antonio College District.

In San Diego County, voters of three fire-prone communities endorsed special taxes for fire prevention. Voters in the remote towns of Ramona, Jamul and Tecate were required under Proposition 218 to decide whether to continue paying for the services. The proposition requires that two-thirds of voters approve essentially all local taxes.

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