alarcon/1stjc/mark2nd By DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter In a move that has broad implications for the future of San Fernando Valley politics, Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon is preparing to enter the Democratic primary for the 20th District Senate race next year putting him in a head-to-head contest against an old friend, former state Assemblyman Richard Katz. If successful in the primary and general elections, Alarcon would become the first Latino elected to the state Senate from the San Fernando Valley and would represent the latest sign of growing Valley Latino political clout. But first, Alarcon would have to get past Katz a long-time Valley lawmaker who was the Assembly’s minority leader before being forced to leave office in 1996 under term limits. Alarcon also may have to face the incumbent, Sen. Herschel Rosenthal, D-Van Nuys. Under term limits, Rosenthal would be forced to leave office next year. However, a federal appellate court is reviewing whether the state’s term limits law is constitutional. “If the courts ruled term limits to be unconstitutional, and if it opens up in time, I will run again,” Rosenthal said. Alarcon said no matter what the court’s decision, he is committed to running for Rosenthal’s seat. But he is not expecting Rosenthal to be able to run next year. “I’m not running from the perspective that Rosenthal is going to run. I’m running from the perspective that he’s not going to run,” Alarcon, 43, said. Alarcon said it was a difficult decision to run for the Democratic nomination, especially since Katz had already announced his intention to run. “We’re going to make an earnest effort. My wife and I decided that we’re in this for real,” Alarcon said. Because the district is largely Democratic, the winner of the Democratic primary is favored to win the general election for the Van Nuys-based district. Alarcon could garner the support of the district’s large Latino population a population that has exhibited growing political clout, particularly in the April citywide election, when it helped pass schools bond measure Proposition BB. Voters in the area also last year elected the first Latino member of the Assembly from the San Fernando Valley Sylmar real estate agent Tony Cardenas, D-Panorama City. The election of Cardenas reflected growing Latino numbers in the Valley, and political analysts have long speculated that the seats of Rosenthal and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Panorama City, would ultimately be won by Latino politicians. Katz, a member of the California Medical Assistance Commission, said that he does not mind running against Alarcon. “We’ve been friends for a long time, and that’s something he’s got a right to do,” Katz said. Katz, who announced his own candidacy early last month, said he will run on a long record of passing legislation including laws to curb gang violence and help victims of sexual assault that has benefited San Fernando Valley residents. Alarcon said that, despite his friendship with Katz, he feels that he offers a break from the past that Katz represents. “The compelling reason for me to run is to improve access of the people of the San Fernando Valley to government. And I believe I’m the one to draw those people.” Alarcon, who lives in Sylmar, was elected to the L.A. City Council in 1993. His Northeast Valley district encompasses Pacoima and sections of Mission Hills, Sylmar, North Hills, Panorama City and North Hollywood. Alarcon said his decision to run for state Senate also puts an end to speculation at least for the time being that he might run for mayor in 2001, when Richard Riordan is termed out as mayor and Alarcon is termed out of the City Council. “I’m running for Senate, and I’m not looking beyond that,” he said.