Claremont Insider: City Election News

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

City Election News


Besides the story of Flyergate, last Saturday's Claremont Courier also carried to Courier's endorsements for the March 8 municipal election.

Like the Daily Bulletin, the Courier endorsed incumbent Sam Pedroza, who looked a little gaunt in his Courier photo, his weight loss apparently the by-product of a bicycling regime of one sort or another. As much as we hate to admit it, we really can't fault either paper for choosing Pedroza as one of its endorsees. We don't usually agree with him, but he gets the nod incumbents usually get absent any scandals or missteps in office.

The Courier also echoed the Bulletin in its endorsement of Opanyi Nasiali, who is running for the third time. The Courier cited Nasiali's volunteer work and his participation as a City commissioner and economic sustainability committee member. The Courier also pointed out that Nasiali worked both on the successful Johnson's Pasture Measure S bond campaign in 2006 and on the campaign against the $95 million Measure CL school bond.

While the first two picks were easy calls, the choice for the third and final seat was a tough one. Claremont 400 candidate Robin Haulman might have been the Courier's pick, but her campaign continually shot itself in the foot, with the final disgrace coming at the February 17 League of Women Voters candidate forum when Haulman's husband Alexander Sweida swiped a bunch of candidate Jay Pocock's fliers and threw them in the trash. So between her actions and her hubby's, Haulman's chances of that coveted Courier endorsement were nil.

Presuming the Courier didn't take Citizen Michael John Keenan, Joseph Armendarez, or Rex Jaime seriously, that left the Bulletin's third choice, Jay Pocock, and former Democratic State Senate candidate Joseph Lyons. The Courier went for Lyons, who because of his lack of past civic involvement has been something of a cipher. Lyons really is the a great Claremont 400 candidate, relying on them for their votes, especially from local retirement communities like Pilgrim Place, and apparently without any of his own opinions or experience in city issues to muck things up for the 400.

We'll see how the Courier and Bulletin endorsements hold up. The last three or four council elections the Courier has been the more accurate of the two newspapers, but a lot can happen between now and March 8. We await the Claremonsters' usual election eve surprise, either through a letter or ad in the Courier the Saturday before the election, or through a last minute mailer landing in the last few days of the campaign. The 400 usually tries to stir up some imagined scandal very late in the game - too late to be rebutted by their target.

As Flyergate, Pasturegate, Signgate, and Shillgate (say, they really are giving new meaning to the term "gated community") have shown in this election, the one thing we can count on is that the Claremonsters will do just about anything to win, and, much like Wile E. Coyote's schemes, their tricks often blow up in their faces.

* * * * *

Speaking of Flyergate, Courier reporter Tony Krickl has the Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story" on his Courier City Beat blog. LWV president Ellen Taylor doesn't come off much better than Haulman's husband does in Krickl's post:
Further defending his actions, Sweida said he was just following the League of Women Voter's policy on negative campaign material. He asked Ellen Taylor, president of Claremont's chapter of the League, if he could remove the fliers. Taylor told him to go ahead, even though she didn't inspect the material beforehand to see if it actually contained "negative" information.

This incident is troubling from many perspectives. With his actions, Sweida has certainly embarrassed his wife and may have cost her the election. Dirty tactics like this just don't sit well with voters.

Taylor defended her decision by saying the League is anti-biased in local elections. However by approving this behavior, she showed a clear bias against Pocock. And that reflects poorly on the entire organization.

And what do other League officials think about what happened?

"It would be better to actually look at the material before making a decision on what to do with it," said Jack Mills, Vice President of the League.

Krickl also quotes Mills as saying that he is unaware of any LWV policy against negative campaigning.