OC Results #2: AV, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Pk, Costa Mesa


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An Unnatural Disaster in Anaheim; End of a Bad Era in Costa Mesa.

City Councils

Aliso Viejo

Aliso Viejo elected three people to Council — I had thought that it would be only two — and that meant that there was room for Republican sure-bet incumbent Mike Munzing, Democratic incumbent Ross Chunand OJB’s endorsed candidate (brought to my attention, as I recall, by Eugene Fields) progressive Dem Richard Hurt!  With incumbent Tiffany Ackley, that creates a 3-2 Democratic majority.  (Aliso Viejerans, has the ever happened before?)  Good going, AV!  Use that power wisely!  (Be careful about the pensions and the Building Trades, for starters.)

Anaheim

Anaheim is thoroughly doomed.  Disney and its friends (Arte Moreno included) got what they wanted: a complete sweep of the three races.  The looting shall continue at an  even quicker pace.  Disney’s national reputation will suffer for its decision to suck up Anaheim’s resources for its own benefit without regard for its citizens — and heads there should roll.  Anaheim’s bankruptcy now seems inevitable; the new Council majority will away give away more city property to Disney and friends (and Arte?) both before and during the grand municipal bankruptcy fire sale. (All of those small city parcels that have been eyed so ravenously, yum!)  Workers with city pensions — including police officers and fire fighters — will be deeply and thoroughly screwed.  (They can’t say that we didn’t warn them.)

On the ironically positive side, the city would default on lots of bonds from the Great Parking Lot and the Convention Center expansion, making it less likely that they can pull that kind of stunt again.  (Again — they can’t say that they weren’t warned.)  My guess is that Disney will buy the convention center — for a really good price — to go with its parking lot and the free Mickey and Friends lot. In fact, aside from its reputation and national disgrace, Disney comes out of this election with a chance for amazing amounts of vulture-investment property to buy, all the better to situate itself for Disneyland’s eventual return (now spend up by Biden’s election.)

Post-bankruptcy, Anaheim might end up a graft-driven Republican paradise, paying rent to Arte Moreno in its ironically re-branded “Scrooge McDuck City Hall.”  ARTIC would finally be able to fulfill its true destiny as America’s Flashiest Massive Homeless Center.  The poor will be cleared out, just as if the Olympics were arriving — which, after all, they are — and sent to whatever city can be forced to take them.  (Would Disney prefer it be Buena Park?  I think that Santa Ana is primed to fight back.)  Dismal days ahead.

Honestly, the City’s best hope is that people fleeing from Hong Kong and Taiwan just buy up all of its housing at a good price and turn the city into a really amazing Chinatown.  (They could recreate Hong Kong Disney here.)  Losing all that great city history will be a pity, Anaheim — but elections matter!  And you blew it.

District 1:

Denise Barnes‘s loss in District 1 is totally tragic.  One Democrat apparently sent out hate mail against her claiming that she is “not a real Democrat.”  (Uh — yes she is!  She’s just not a white, ardently pro-choice, wealthy suburban one.  So if you want a majority — people like her will have to be in it!)

But do you know who isn’t a Democrat?  Jose Diaz, the guy who got 43.25% to beat her by 4.3%.  So this was not a race between two Democrats, but between a good Democrat and an independent.  Any Democrat with good values should have supported her.  Sadly, that does not include enough of the outgoing DPOC to give her the nomination.

DPOC Chair Ada Briceño likely could have twisted enough arms (it’s not like she doesn’t know how) to get Denise the endorsement.  Why didn’t she do so — when she had put so much effort this past decade into opposing the oppressive and kleptocratic policies that the new majority will now help Jordan Brandman promote?  That, unfortunately, is likely due to her own future political ambitions — which depend on her not pissing off the Building Trades.  (The #1 thing that the new DPOC should do is move the hell out of any Building Trades union hall, so that they can oppose them, when they’re wrong, without duress.  Forget about trying to turn them around; what happened in Anaheim will have only whetted their maniacal thirst for municipal blood.)

None of the outcomes for Anaheim were good.  But this was the only one that was a disaster.

District 4:

Anaheim’s District 4 race was less tragic than farce, its outcome clear for over a year as an oncoming train.  Annemarie Randle-Trejo‘s and Jeanine Robbins earned their joint loss to Avelino “Vendido” Valencia  Either might have beaten him on their own.

And, they could have.  I realize that Avelino got 50.6% — official Republican Julie Brunette got 5% — which some seem to think means that the race was doomed anyway.  Not so.  That result occurred under these conditions:

  •  Disney and the Trades (and even SAPOA!) stomping on the gas to generate an relentless spew of mailers boosting Avelino (and some attacking Annemarie)
    • This bombardment was so great that additional spending would have been wasted, or even counter-productive by pissing people off
  • endorsers split between all three Democrats: with no clear viable alternative to Avelino, why aggravate him?
  • major (and lesser) donors skipped the race because money spent on it it was clearly going down the drain

The amount that Disney spent in the race probably passed the point of counter-productivity, so we don’t have to worry much about it possibly spending more.  But a single progressive opponent would likely have opened the tap for fundraising and other resources, led to a better endorsement result, and tamped down voter confusion.  I haven’t yet seen the turnout in that district, or at least in this race relative to others, but I expect that it was relatively depressed.

Rationally, it was Jeanine who should have dropped out — the “popular Anaheim activist power” myth, if ever true (at least without Tom Tait as Mayor), was not going to be prevail with Covid impeding door knocking.  But Annemarie had a political career to protect, and thus more to lose.  In this game of chicken, I think that she should have been the one to swerve — not because she was less likely to win, but for her own good.  I suggested once at the Anaheim Democratic Club that, if the DPOC couldn’t afford a poll to assess their chances — although now we know that they wouldn’t have wanted to help either — they just flip a coin to see which one would file.  Maybe taking my suggestion may seem better to Annemarie now in retrospect — and her in office and Jeanine as her staffer would have been a very powerful duo —  especially in what would have then been a dismal two-person minority where sounding occasional alarms is the only useful role.

I do understand their likely motivations.  Both of them wanted to know where they stood, feedback that one never gets if one withdraws; each wanted to vindicate their theories of victory; each thought that they’d do the best job.

Now they know where they stand: Annemarie got 22.8% in the face of negative mailers; Jeanine 1.25% behind that (with no one even bothering to spend money attacking her.)   They got a combined 44.35% — a number from which a victory over a candidate who got 50.6% was, with more money and support, plausible.  This race now is a cautionary tale — sadly, one that too often won’t be heeded.

The villains in this case are those usual suspects who supported Avelino — plus one unusual suspect: the DPOC.  And, I hate to say it, but Ada Briceño clearly could have twisted arms to deny Avelino the nomination had she wanted to buck the Trades.  But her ambition is far more potent than her sense of duty.

Where do they go now?  Jeanine will presumably return to her role leading a Council meeting truth squad — where she will be more needed now than ever.  But what about Annemarie?  I spent some time thinking about this, and came to a surprising conclusion.

Maybe Annemarie should run for Mayor.  Hear me out on this!

After this debacle, I’d say that Jose Moreno should not run for Mayor (if it’s been decided that he’s even eligible after what will have been six years in the Council trenches.)  Frankly, Anaheim asks too much from him to stay in his current seat at all.  He’d more wisely resign, reset his term limits clock, let them appoint his dismal 2018 Walt Disney-aping opponent, get five years worth of academic writing done in two years, and come back in 2022 running for either District 3 or (if he liked seeing what Tait’s life was like under the Murray-Brandman majority) for Mayor.

So, if Jose does refrain, what other decent Democrats (or remaining decent Republicans) from likely perches might run against Sidhu?

  • Former recent officeholders: Demise Barnes? James Vanderbilt?  (Tom Tait won’t; don’t ask)
  • Planning Commissioners: Steve White
  • Other Commissioners: Only one I know is Mark Daniels
  • School board members”
    • Annemarie R-T (up in 2022 on the High School Board)
    • Al Jabbar (also up in 2022 on the High School Board)
    • Jose Paolo Magcalas (just reelected, Elementary Board)
    • Jackie Filbeck (just reelected, Elementary Board)
    • Ryan Ruelas (up in 2022 for Elementary Board)
  • Wealthy residents: (Bill Taormina?)
  • Spoilers responsible for Sidhu’s first win (Lorri Galloway)

It seems entirely possible to me that Annemarie, if she’s willing to give up her seat, could be the one on that list most likely to win.

District 5:

Steve Faessel won this seat in a walkaway, compared to 2016, with .  His investment in Yesenia Rojas paid off and he got 52.8%.  Kenneth Batiste — deeply underfunded, hampered by the inability to knock on doors, and facing withering attacks, managed only 16.8%.  The remaining 30.4% went to the pretty, young, uninvolved in Anaheim issues, and mostly politically clueless Savrina Quezada — the only woman and only Latino in the race.

Batiste is part of a small, tightly-knit, highly effective activist group that overestimated their popularity with the public — as well as what it would take to win in a pandemic.  The smart thing to do, in retrospect, would be to find out if they could trust Savrina, get her on the record favoring the major issues they care about, and then support  her against Faessel.  But again, that’s just not how things usually work — and had they done so they wouldn’t have learned the lesson that they learned this year about how deserving public esteem and receiving it in an election are two different things.

Where do things go from here?

I’m not sure where Anaheim’s term limits law stands right now, but I think Faessel runs for Mayor when Sidhu’s done.

Quezada … I don’t know, but maybe she could get involved in Anaheim politics.  Take her to a few meetings and if she survives them with a heart simmering with disgust, she has a future.

Batiste: #1 and most importantly — take as many Toastmaster’s classes as possible and add a second pitch of smoothness to his current earnest but unpolished appeals.

Then, he needs to identify people who really will back him financially — and come up with something where they prove that they’ll follow through.

But I don’t know if serving on a city council minority suits him anyway.  He’s more likely to recruit and help the next progressive and serious version of Sav Quezada, one who can win a Council seat.

Brea

While Brea’s school board races were interesting, its city races were not.  Two City Council seats were up.  Christine Marick won re-election with 36.34% of the vote.  Marty Simonoff did so with 32% — almost 12% ahead of Tyler Baugh.  In the Treasurer’s race, Denise Eby upset (from what I can tell) Bev Perry by about 7% — and will hopefully become Brea’s last elected Treasurer.

Buena Park

One great outcome in BP; one was same-old, same-old: same, old.

District 3

OJB-endorsed Susan Sonne convincingly won a Council seat with 51%, besting Sharon Smith (wife of Councilmember Fred Smith) by over 20%!  Sonne was a progressive favorite and it will be very interesting to see how she fits into the Council.  Maybe big changes are afoot?

District 4

Conservative Democrat Art Brown beat Donna Varona Sipl with almost 59.5% of the vote, marking Brown’s seventeen-millionth term.

Costa Mesa

OJB-endorsed Katrina Foley won the Mayor’s race with over 53%  — 30% over nearest competitor Sandy Genis, with three others trailing.  Foley hopefully stays put in the face of other temptations.  Genis is termed out.  Non-Mayoral candidate Allan Mansoor was termed out this year as well, so except for Riggy-opponent Foley herself there goes the last remnant of the Righeimer Era.  And good riddance!

District 1 

Don Harper beat John Stephens by 321 votes (about 3%).  A third candidate trailed with 16%.  Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, but I’m sort of shocked.  Was this due to the “city seal” controversy?

District 2 

OJB and DPOC-endorsed Loren Gameros won with 49.4% of the vote, over RNOC-endorsed Ben Chapman with over 30% and Gary Parkin with over 20%

District 6

OJB-endorsed Jeffrey Harlan got 46.92% of the vote, beating Jeff Pettis by over 26%, with two others trailing.

Coming up tomorrow:  Cypress to Fullerton!  (We hope….)


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) 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. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. 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. One of his daughters 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.)