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Friday, August 25, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Perennial Candidate No Stranger To Rejection

RENTON - Sandy Webb loves this city. He loves the people. He says he loves the parks, the neighborhoods, the working-class feel created by the city's top company, Boeing, where he worked as an engineer for 37 years.

Renton just doesn't seem to love him back.

Almost every election year for two decades, Webb, 70, has asked the good people of Renton to hire him for a seat in the city government.

He has run for public office here eight times in the past 18 years, including for mayor this fall. So far, he's always lost.

He has become the Charlie Brown of local politics. And, according to those who know him, he has the purest of intentions.

He cares so deeply about his neighborhood that he attends more City Council meetings than some council members.

He is ferociously independent of special interests and the local political establishment. He demonstrated this in 1990, he says, when he challenged in court the expansion plan of his own employer, The Boeing Co., arguing it would create too much noise and traffic.

He campaigns hard, going door to door and he also spends his own money on the cause: $50,000 over seven past campaigns, including a high of $10,000 on the 1983 mayoral race, he says.

Yet he has never come close to winning an election. In fact, he's never even won a primary.

In 1977, he finished fifth among seven candidates for the City Council - the only time he's placed ahead of anyone on the ballot. He told a newspaper he had no prior involvement in government but was running "to give the voters one candidate who is not politically oriented."

Webb's one-way love affair with the voters never improved much from there. He finished last in council races in 1979 and 1989, as well as in mayoral races in 1983, 1987 and 1991.

In his best showing yet, a one-on-one 1989 council race against Nancy Mathews, Webb lost by 56 percent to 44 percent. In politics, that's a landslide. Webb demanded a recount.

"I don't think it's anything personal against me, and I don't get discouraged, but I would like to savor a win, just once," Webb said.

As for the primary election on Sept. 19, in which he is one of four challengers to Mayor Earl Clymer, Webb says it will probably be his last try at public office. "Of course, the last time was supposed to be my last try, also," he said.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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