OJB’s 2018 Primary Election Picks, Pt 3: County Executive Officers And Judges


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OC Assessor candidate Nathaniel Fernandez Epstein: read his site at epstein4oc.com!

INTRODUCTION

Your absentee “vote-by-mail” ballots are about to arrive in the mail, if that’s how you roll — and about a quarter of the vote comes by in the end of first weekend after they arrive — so: Welcome to OJB’s endorsements for the 2018 primaries, County Executive Officers and Judges.   (Yes, we will talk about legislative races and ballot measures — Vern, are you working on the ballot measures? — but in later separate posts!)

For those of you new to our endorsement system, it’s different from those of most other publications, as befits our politically heterodox complement of writers.  Sometimes, we will present a single “choice of the publication” — for example, YES ON B (Irvine voters only), supporting the building of the proposed veterans cemetery at the “Strawberry Fields” site, as opposed to most likely nowhere at all — about which we will sometimes feel strongly enough that dissenting opinions will get relegated to the comments.

More often, Vern and I (Greg, who will be writing all of the commentary that is not marked as coming from someone else) will give our own opinions and invite others — our Republican writers Ryan and Cynthia, in recent years, although Cynthia may not want to participate due to her candidacy for Anaheim Mayor, and I think Ricardo and at least one other other contributor as well, though Vern and I haven’t yet discussed it– to express their choices and brief justifications “above the fold” as well.

This suits this blog’s role, in the Vern regime, as a place where reasonable people of all parties can discuss things reasonably (although sometimes we choose to do otherwise.)  There’s a Democratic tilt because Vern and I run the joint, but our Republicans and NPPs and third-parties, and anti-party people are more than able to fend for themselves.

A personal note: because I am a member of the state and local Democratic Central Committees, I cannot endorse against, or even advise against voting for, a party-endorsed candidate.  (It’s the price of staying in office and being an advocate for ethics, goodness, and sanity.)  I don’t have to favor anyone I don’t want to, though, and so in some races I will not endorse.  (That doesn’t affect this post, as there was no CDP endorsement for either Governor or Senate.  Chaos!)

Nasty anonymous attacks in comments are frowned upon, and may be cut.  This is a respectable joint, y’hear!  Now, on to the offices.

SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE

Only one judge was challenged this year, Ted Howard.  He put in a ballot statement, his opponent — a guy named Franklin Dunn — did not.  I have heard bad things about various judges, but nothing bad about Judge Howard.  Nothing good either, for that matter.  He and I are probably both mystified as to why Dunn singled him out

GREG’s pick: Retain him.

If you truly want to protest the Superior Court, go after someone who deserves it.  Bonus points for explaining why.

ASSESSOR

Nathaniel Fernandez Epstein, whom I believe to be unsurpassed among Filipino-Jewish-American candidates for Assessor in OC history, is the endorsed candidate of DPOC, so I can’t say anything bad about him.  Happily, I don’t want to.  He is also one of the few people whom I know to be a client of my daughter’s firm.  That doesn’t affect my endorsement either.  What affects my endorsement is that the Assessor’s office has been an expensive cesspit for decades under Webster Guillory and now Claude Parrish (who promised investigation and reform and then snuffed it out), and the third candidate (Richard Ramirez) who has been working in the office for a long time, has not been clearly in the lead when it has come to publicly opposing the shenanigans.

GREG’s pick: Epstein

Epstein is both qualified and unbought.  Parrish isn’t.  That warrants your vote.  If it’s Parrish against Ramirez in the runoff, we’ll talk more about Ramirez then and there, when we endorse him.

SUPERVISOR

This is a non-partisan seat, but let’s not kid ourselves: it’s a partisan race, and the usual Top Two considerations apply.  (One exception: getting over 50% of the vote eliminates the need for a runoff.  That won’t happen in the 4th District race); it will happen in the 2nd and 5th districts.)

2nd DISTRICT SUPERVISOR

Pick Brendon Perkins over Michelle Steel.  This will be updated and expanded, likely by Vern, but if you’re getting ready to fill out your ballot before then, then just do it this way.

4th DISTRICT SUPERVISOR

The CDP-endorsed candidate is Joe Kerr, so I can neither endorse against him nor criticize him.  (I can report what others say as I handicap the race, though.)  The other Democratic candidates are Cynthia Aguirre, Rose Espinoza, and Doug Chaffee.  The Republican candidates are Tim Shaw and Lucille Kring.  A Shaw-Kring runoff, shutting out the four Democrats, is a distinct possibility.  With four candidates splitting the vote, a Democratic shutout seems highly unlikely.

  • Joe Kerr: I was the only person in DPOC to vote against endorsing Kerr at the end, and it wasn’t because I didn’t like him.  There’s trouble brewing here in North County over the race, where Kerr has lots of establishment support does not much grassroots support.  Since the party establishment is going purge-crazy these days, kicking out some excellent party delegates (Aguirre among them!) for opposing Kerr, as well as eliminating the venerable club “Democrats of North Orange County” (with which I have been affiliated and which I still very much like), is a possible consequence of the vote — and that is not only stupid, but it endangers John Newman’s success in the recall.As for Kerr himself, he is an especially thoughtful, decent, and genteel man.  Your stereotypes of politicians (and perhaps labor leaders) do not apply.  My concern is his fit with the district — and I’m not even talking about the by now somewhat boring “carpetbagger” signs already up that David Zenger will soon be defending in comments.  It’s that, as someone whose position has included fighting for higher compensation and pension for firefighters (including top brass), I’m concerned that he’s going to be steamrolled by Tim Shaw over the pension issue.  I have some respect for concerns over public pensions — especially given that OC has reset the clock and can now declare bankruptcy again — though I’m not as aggressive about it as Zenger, Tom Tait, and Tim Shaw.  But I think that we’re about to find out how potent of an issue it can be.  Maybe it’s not all that potent!  Kerr doesn’t mention pension reform in his candidate statement, but he had better have a position on the issue in his back pocket — because it’s on Shaw’s platform.
  • Cynthia Aguirre has developed a good reputation as smart and hard-working among both party regulars and activists.  But he’s the lower-ranked of the two Latinas from La Habra in the race.  (Yes, Kerr has held no elected position, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the party.  She and Espinoza seem likely to split the vote.  I’d like to see Aguirre have run from having been at least on City Council — because Espinoza will probably do her best to block her rival from making that leap in the future.  Honestly, her best bets to advance from school board may be Assembly and County Treasurer.
  • Rose Espinoza is well-liked, but she has run for Supervisor before without making much of an impact.  She has a reputation as a diffident fundraiser and campaigner.  And, again, she’ll be splitting the vote here.
  • Doug Chaffee is the sole non-liberal Democrat in this race, with his backing coming largely from police associations (who would like nothing better than a runoff between him and Kring.)  So that means that he won’t be splitting the vote much, except perhaps with Kerr.  And that might be enough to keep out of the runoff.  Some call Chaffee a RINO, but I don’t think that he really cares about beating Shaw; I just don’t think that he gives a rat’s ass about whether Democrats win his race.
  • Tim Shaw has the endorsements of Mayors and leading Council members from every city in the district, spanning the spectrum from Anaheim’s Tom Tait to Placentia’s Chad Wanke (who was once expected to run for this seat.)  He’s running on a traditional Republican pro-police and pro-business platform, but it’s tempered with the Tait-like pro-compassion for the homeless and anti-boondoggle orientation that plays well in the district.  Which is good, given that the Republican alternative is …
  • Lucille Kring, who promises to being “honesty, integrity, accountability, transparency’ to office — which is such a heap of manure that I will have to ask for assistance from our other writers and commenters to shovel it away.

Greg’s pick: NO ENDORSEMENT

I do expect to have a preference in the runoff, though — especially if Kring wins.

5th DISTRICT SUPERVISOR

To the best of my knowledge, Lisa Bartlett remains unopposed.

Greg’s pick: WRITE IN LAKE FOREST MAYOR DR. JIM GARDNER.  IF HE WINS, MAYBE HE’LL TAKE THE HINT! 

Vern’s pick:  WRITE IN FORMER SAN CLEMENTE MAYOR KATHLEEN WARD, FOE OF THE 241 TOLL ROAD EXTENSION AND FOE OF LISA BARTLETT~

DISTRICT ATTORNEY

We have four — well, 3½ — candidates here.  The favored Republican candidates are incumbent Tony Rackauckas and insurgent insider Todd Spitzer.  The DPOC-endorsed Democrat, whom I also favor, is Brett Murdock.  The fourth candidate on the ballot — who is without a ballot designation because she is suspended from the practice of law (although for the longest time she refused to admit it and practiced anyway) is chthonic creature Lenore Albert Sheridan, who is “Vice Chair of the Credentials Committee” (although if you aren’t involved in the state Democratic Party you may not know what credentials committee she’s talking about.)  Lenore, having sued Spitzer (while barred from practice) and kneecapped Murdock, may be in the race in the hope that a victorious Rackauckas will appoint her Vice Chair of another Credentials Committee — or, given her recent bankruptcy, perhaps its paying equivalent.

If Murdock doesn’t make the runoff, the debate over whether Rackauckas or Spitzer is worse will be entertaining (although also life-force-sapping) for the following five months.  Hopefully, that can be avoided.  Both Republicans seem to want the field to themselves, without the distraction of Murdock, as this gunfight has been coming for a long time.  Will the primary loser still endorse the winner against Murdock?  I certainly hope not.

GREG’s pick for District Attorney: Murdock

SHERIFF

Three choices here to replace retiring and scandal plagues Sandra Hutchins.  One of them, Duke Nguyen, is cut out to be a reform if elected.  Vote for Duke.  More on this later, though meanwhile you can check their ballot statements.

GREG’s pick for Sheriff: Nguyen

AUDITOR-CONTROLLER

There’s supposedly a lawsuit in this case, where challenger Toni Smart has sued incumbent and her former supervisor Eric Woolery.  We had forgotten all about that until seeing the sample ballor, but will look that up before we make an endorsement.  (We don’t want to hold publication of the rest of this yet, so for now it’s no endorsement.)

GREG’s pick for Auditor-Controller: NO ENDORSEMENT (AT LEAST NOT YET)

CLERK-RECORDER

Clerk -Recorder: Hugh Nguyen.  Technically opposed by Steve Rocco, but that’s still pretty much unopposed.

GREG’s pick for Clerk-Recorder: Nguyen

TREASURER

Incumbent Shari Friedenreich is unopposed.  Cynthia Aguirre, start fundraising for 2022!

GREG’s pick for Treasurer: Whatever

COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

Al Mijares is running unopposed.

GREG’s pick: Whatever

COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

Remember, PLURALITY VOTE WINS here.  No runoff.  This is a terrible rule and should be changed.

District 2: David Boyd

Matt Nguyen is OK, but should not be running here because of the Terrible Rule.  Mari Barke is not OK and may benefit from the Terrible Rule.  Boyd has been a particularly good incumbent and Matt Cunningham is being paid to bash him!  VOTE FOR DAVID BOYD!

District 5: Mary Navarro

District 5 has FIVE CANDIDATES!  One of them is Mary Navarro.  Remembering more than one name is too hard; just vote for Navarro.  If you don’t, pick someone randomly so that the Terrible Rule works for her!  (No, seriously: only vote for Navarro.  Write it down if you have to!)

 


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)