“Grass roots” activist Cathy Schlicht defeats the “machine” candidate in Mission Viejo

While the morning newspaper headline might read “elected in the city of Mission Viejo were councilman Frank Ury with 13,707 votes and first time challenger Cathy Schlicht garnering 11,163 votes,” there is more to the final results in yesterday’s city council election for those two seats.

Note: I am reminded that there are still some absentee votes to be counted.

There was no secret that Mayor Trish Kelley was lining up financial and endorsement support for her “hand picked” candidate to challenge council woman Gail Reavis before Gail surprised everyone by her decision not to seek a third term.  Trish put out a massive effort supporting Frank Ury’s reelection and her goal to replace Gail with Trish’s Planning Commissioner Rich Atkinson whose name appeared on 11 slate mailers including two that I did not receive called the Vietnamese-American Voter Guide and the Asian-American Voter Guide.

Note: Our candidates did not have a single slate mailer which in itself is another story.

Having just arrived in my office after attending an election night gathering with candidates Cathy Schlicht, Neil Lonsinger and two dozen supporters at a private home in Mission Viejo, (until 2 a.m. when the unofficial final results were posted), I can report that the six challengers did not change position at any time during the evening as we waited and waited for the initial precinct votes to be posted. From the absentee’s to the six cycles where vote tallies changed it was obvious from our matrix that three of the six candidates were leading the pack with Neil Lonsinger, another candidate supported by the “grass roots” team, being very close to Cathy Schlicht as she slowly pulled further ahead of him.  Rich Atkinson, the mayor’s choice, finished fourth 3,203 votes behind Cathy.

You should never underestimate the power of an organized “grass roots” effort. While we supported both Neil Lonsinger and Cathy Schlicht in this year’s election, we had a huge mountain to climb to capture both seats. I’ll keep our “strategy and tactics” to myself and simply report that you can overcome the “machine candidates” with good old fashioned hard work. It is worth noting that in 2004 Mr. Ury received 18,772 votes, 5065 more than he garnered in his reelection victory..See above note on remaining absentee ballots yet to be counted.

We are not done. Our group is already looking ahead to the 2010 election when three seats will be up for grabs including John Ledesma who will be termed out of office.

About Larry Gilbert