Democrats take most mayoral races

By DAVID E. ANDERSON  |  Nov. 8, 1989
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WASHINGTON -- Democrat David Dinkins became the first black mayor of the New York City Tuesday, putting together a coalition of black and white voters that overcame former prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani's first bid for elected office.

Dinkins and a host of other Democrats were victorious in most major mayoral races around the nation.

Dinkins, 62, a longtime warrior in the trenches of New York's often contentious establishment politics and a patient coalition builder who promised to bring healing to the racially polarized Big Apple, overcame Jewish fears of his association with Jesse Jackson and apparently won the one-third of the white vote he needed to enter Gracie Mansion as Mayor Ed Koch's successor.

With 97 percent of the votes counted, Dinkins had 51 percent to 47 percent for Giuliani.

In Cleveland's mayoral contest, which pitted two black Democrats, Ohio State Sen. Mike White won 55 percent of the vote, defeating Council President George Forbes. The only other Cleveland black mayor was Carl Stokes, who in 1967 became the first black to head a major American city.

In Houston, Mayor Kathy Whitmire raced to a landslide victory in her bid for a fifth consecutive term in office, easily defeating former two-term city leader Fred Hofheinz. With 293 of the 479 precincts counted, Whitmire had 95,848 votes, or 60.6 percent. Hofheinz, who served two terms in the 1970s, garnered 54,667 votes, or 34.5 percent.

Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez soundly defeated challenger Armando Lacasa Tuesday, securing his third term in office and the first four-year term a Miami mayor will serve.

Suarez received 64 percent or 21,926 votes, while Lacasa received 36 percent or 12,165 votes.

Generally, it was a bleak day for Republicans seeking to run cities.

In Toledo, Ohio, former Lucas County Democratic Chairman John McHugh wrested control of city hall for his party after nearly six years of Republican rule, crushing three-term incumbent Mayor Donna Owens.

The racefor the top job in the Big Apple was a contentious and bitter battle that attracted national attention as Giuliani -- who has never held elected office -- struggled against a huge Dinkins lead in the early days of the campaign.

Giuliani, seeking to overcome a 5-1 Democratic advantage among New York voters, sought to capitalize on questions of Dinkins' integrity as well as the black Democrats' refusal to repudiate his friendship with Jesse Jackson. That friendship was a sore point among Jews, who make up more than 20 percent of the city's voters.

While Giuliani's campaign attacking Dinkins bore some fruit, more recent polls showed Dinkins regained Jewish support by playing up his theme that he is the candidate most capable of healing a city deeply polarized by racial tension.

Elsewhere, Mayor Coleman Young of Detroit, who has held office since 1973, coasted toward an unprecedented fifth term.

With 52.5 percent of the vote in, Young, with 64,154 votes, or 56.4 percent, led accountant Tom Barrow, with 49,482 votes, or 43.5 percent.

Barrow, however, was refusing to concede defeat and Young had not formally claimed victory at evening's end.

In Minneapolis, Democratic Mayor Donald Fraser, a former congressman who has served as mayor for 10 years, handily defeated Jens Peterson by a 4-1 margin.

Across the river in St. Paul, Minn., City Council President Jim Scheibel, also a Democrat, defeated former city councilman and police lieutenant Bob Fletcher, who ran as an independent.

New Haven, Conn., as expected, elected their city's first black mayor -- Democrat John C. Daniels, who coasted to an easy victory over Republican Robie Pooley.

But in Connecticut's largest city, Bridgeport, the GOP scored an upset victory with Republican Mary Moran ousting Democratic Mayor Thomas Bucci, plagued by the city's financial problems and divisions within his own party.

In Hartford, Conn., Democratic Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry easily defeated Republican challenger Rosemary Zazzaro Cardwell by an unofficial total of 9,565 to 3,939 votes. Two years ago, Perry became the first black woman mayor of a major northeastern city.

In Manchester, N.H., the state's largest city, Republican Ray Wieczorek defeated one-term Democratic Mayor Emile Beaulieu, receiving 48.3 percent of the vote to Beaulieu's 40.8 percent in a three-way race. Wieczorek, an insurance salesman and city Housing Authority member, received strong backing from popular Republican Gov. Judd Gregg.

Mayor James Griffin rolled to victory in a historic Buffalo, N.Y., election. With 13 percent of the ballots counted, Griffin, 60, captured 80 percent of the vote, to 13 percent for Assemblyman William Hoyt, who abandoned his campaign two months ago but remained on the ballot.

In winning an unprecedented fourth, fourth-year term, Griffin became the longest-serving mayor in Buffalo's 157-year history.

In Yonkers, N.Y., Republican councilman Henry Spallone scored a narrow victory over incumbent Nicholas Wasicsko in the city's mayoral race, throwing the future of the city's housing desegregation plan into certain turmoil.

And in Ithaca, N.Y., Democrat Benjamin Nichols, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America party, was elected mayor by a slim margin over his Republican opponent, Jean Cookingham.

With all precincts counted, Nichols had 2,630 votes to Cookingham's 2,428 votes.

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