Claremont Insider: City Election Winds Down

Sunday, February 22, 2009

City Election Winds Down

"Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point; on le sait en mille choses."
-- Blaise Pascal

With just over one week to go, Claremont's municipal election season is winding down. The Daily Bulletin gave their endorsements last week, and the Claremont Courier weighed in with their picks yesterday (the Courier's endorsement article isn't posted on their website).

Surprisingly, both newspapers picked the same two candidates: incumbent Corey Calaycay and Community Services commissioner Larry Schroeder. The Bulletin liked Schroeder's background as a director of finance for the cities of Lakewood and Glendora. They also thought Calaycay has done a good job since he was elected four years ago, despite a some ugly mudslinging by the Preserve Claremont group.

The Bulletin thought the third candidate, Bridget Healy, was qualified, but Healy's insiderness (small 'i") was a turnoff. The Bulletin's editorial board also noted that Healy draws the majority of her CalPERS pension from her 18 years in Claremont. The Bulletin didn't come out and say it, but there does seem to be an implied conflict there; and, besides, it's just not good policy to have former senior staffers running for office in the same city they worked in. There is supposed to be a separation between the council and the staff, and having Healy on the council would seem a breach.

The Courier devoted a full page to its endorsements, with long, very thoughtful explanations for their choices. The Courier remarked about how quiet this election has been compared the last several, and that has indeed been a welcome relief.

Like the Bulletin, the Courier noted Calaycay's concerns about fiscal responsibility, and they also noted his willingness to listen to the problems and concerns of individual citizens, as well as the emphasis he has placed on transparency in city government. The Courier said about Calaycay:
He is always prepared at council meetings and has a clear position on the issues. At the same time, he is open to hearing the thoughts of the public. On a couple different occasions, he has changed his vote due to compelling input from the public. This is something you rarely see from council members, who usually have their minds set on the issues before the meeting, regardless of what is brought up during public comment.

With Schroeder, again like the Bulletin, the Courier liked his finance background, especially in the current economic climate. They also liked an example Schroeder gave of how the transportation funds the city received and used for the Claremont Trolley could have been traded to another city whose transportation needs are greater than ours. The swap would have allowed Claremont to put a good portion of the money into its General Fund to help balance the current budget.

The Courier said about Schroeder and his idea:
Was this option ever presented to the city council by our city staff? If it was, would we have a mostly empty trolley trucking around the Village today?

This type of innovative thinking is what our city will need over the next few years as we ride out the economic crisis.

Being relatively new in town [Schroeder has been in Claremont seven years] does not have to be a drawback. An outsider, particularly with with Mr. Schroeder's background, can bring in fresh ideas on how to promote economic development and deal with other issues facing our city....

And regarding Healy, the Courier thought that some of her ideas, like forming a committee of citizens to examine economic issues, "seems a bit recycled." They thought that compared with the other two candidates, Healy's ideas weren't fresh. The Courier also felt that Healy didn't offere up the sort of long-term ideas for the city that the other two candidates did.

The biggest criticism the Courier had regarding Candidate Healy, though, was her long history as Assistant City Manager here - the very thing her supporters praise. The Courier said:
Like many in the community, we have a hard time distancing her from her longtime colleague, former City Manager Glenn Southard. His management style rubbed many people the wrong way. Although "he got things done," [i.e., made the trains run on time - ed.] as Ms. Healy noted, we believe our current city staff is very capable of getting things done without creating tensions among the community.

We can't shake the feeling that she skipped town [to follow Southard to Indio] when things got contentious between the council and staff after Jackie McHenry was elected. Is packing your bags the best way to deal with challenges?

So there you have it. Both local papers are in agreement on Schroeder and Calaycay. How does this play out on election day? Your guess is as good as ours. The points the two papers made were all good, reasonable ones. But those don't necessarily matter in Claremont.

Healy has one enormous thing going for her. She doesn't need the papers' endorsements. She has the Claremont 400 backing her, and that means that Healy can count on winning the most important precinct in town, the one encompassing the Pilgrim Place retirement community in the heart of the Claremont Village. The Pilgrims, many of whom were outraged (or at least as outraged as those folks get) over the 1999 Irvin Landrum shooting and City Hall's handling of that crisis - something in which Healy was deeply involved. All seems to be oddly forgiven (or forgotten), however.

Since that Pilgrim Place precinct generates a very high turnout loyal to the 400, Healy can bank a lot of votes, an advantage that past Claremonster candidates have used to the fullest. It matters little that Healy's record as a senior city staffer embodied the worst of the Southard years. The Pilgrims will reliably punch the chad corresponding to whomever the Claremonsters say.

As we've said before, Official Claremont has its reasons that Reason knows not. You've seen it in a thousand things.