Claremont Insider: Claremont League of Women Voters Awards Baldonado

Monday, June 25, 2007

Claremont League of Women Voters Awards Baldonado

Carrying on its long-standing tradition of honoring and building up its own, the Claremont 400 (Secular Arm), through the Claremont League of Women Voters, honored former mayor, councilmember, and loose cannon Sandra N. Baldonado with its Ruth Ordway Award. When you understand that a few of the former recipients include Judy Wright, Mary Jane Merrill, and Michael Fay, you begin to see what this is all about.

The eloquence was overpowering when the Claremont Courier asked Claremont League of Women Voters (LWV) president Betsey Coffman about Sandra Baldonado's service:

"She just deserves it. We look to choose someone that is outstanding in their service to the community and someone who has served Claremont. Sandy has done that and she is full of public service. She has a lot of unsung service that she has done outside of what she is notably recognized for."

(Future Ciceros of the world take note; Coffman's remarks are worth your careful study.)

Baldonado is known to many in Claremont for her endearing comments, such as the time she told the members of the public at a council meeting that they ought to "get a life." (This comment is regularly resurrected by the estimable Courier columnist John Pixley)

To know Sandy Baldonado is to know how mean and biting she is. Here is an audio clip of her speaking when she was mayor of Claremont where she simultaneously insults the residents of Victorville (sales-weighted median home price $298K in May 2007 compared with Claremont's median home price of $563K), the residents of West Virginia, and, by implication, anyone not of her social stratum. Why else would she and the Claremont 400 want to put the City's affordable housing in a ghetto on Baseline well away from their precious Village?

Baldonado also led the failed Parks and Pasture Assessment District battle. Her comments when this election failed, as reported in a Claremont Courier online article, are vintage Sandy:

"I think it's a very sad day for Claremont. Apparently it's not the city that I know and love; it wouldn't have done that, so something's different."

And with a bit of fear for "the Other" that so characterizes Baldonado--and the Claremont 400--she continued, "There are more people in Claremont who don't really care about the environment and open space than people who do, and that's the opposite of old Claremont. This is the demise of old Claremont, in my opinion--the Claremont we knew."

But don't cry for Claremont, it's really all about Sandy, as reported in the Courier on July 29, 2006:

"With her council term ending in March, Ms. Baldonado said the defeat of the assessment district would 'definitely' affect her decision to run for re-election, adding that it leads her to question 'whether or not I'm the kind of person who Claremont wants to represent them.'"

Again, don't cry for Claremont. The General Obligation bond for Johnson's Pasture, supported only very grudgingly and late by Sandra Baldonado (a reader reminds us that she was dragged kicking and screaming), prevailed in November with a 71% to 29% margin.

Don't take too seriously Sandy's comment that "the League is where I cut my teeth on politics." That is the kind of comment you make to people giving you an award. Shortly after her graduation from Smith College in the late 1950s, Baldonado began her career in Democratic Party politics that defines her. She worked as a special assistant to Lyndon Johnson's vice-presidential campaign. She was vice-chair of the California Democratic Party from 1977-1981, and along the way campaigned unsuccessfully twice for California Assembly as a Democrat.

The picture below shows her (left) in 1976 with Democratic icon Jerry Voorhis, Louise Voorhis, and California Senator Alan Cranston (right).

Sandy Baldonado: What a Claremont 400 politician is all about, and with an award to prove it.