Fullerton Election: What Hasn’t Been Said? A Conservative’s breakdown of the ballot.

My final analysis going into election day: A Conservative breakdown of things in Fullerton.

Fullerton Fireworks

The fireworks measure on the ballot in Fullerton is not even close to the biggest fireworks on the ballot in Fullerton.


W– Chevron’s Welfare Agreement.  Vote no and end corporate welfare for big oil in Fullerton.  Read more here.

X– Chris Thompson’s Railroaded Pyro Project.  Vote no and demand accountability from your city council.  We should have the plan for how we’ll safely implement “Safe and Sane” fireworks before we cast a vote and not after.  My favorite quote from council’s discussion on this: “You can’t ban stupid.”  True, but you can vote “no” on stupid ballot measures until they’re smart.

Council Candidates

Sorted based on likelihood of picking up a seat and by libertarian to liberal, based on the platforms they’ve presented.

Leading The Pack

Travis Kiger

Bruce Whitaker

Jennifer Fitzgerald

Rick Alvarez

Jan Flory

Life is weird at the top.  If civility is dead in Fullerton, this is the group that killed it.  Jan Flory has gone toe to toe with the Friends for Fullerton’s Future Blog, and not in a good way.  Removing the content of the insults and just focusing on the vitriol,  it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between the two camps.  Her less than tactful comment regarding breast feeding at the beginning of the campaign was hardly the high water mark in terms of civility that I had hoped it was.

Whitaker and Kiger have significant independent expenditures backed by Tony Bushala’s PAC, which is matched dollar for dollar by the public safety unions, who back Rick Alvarez and Jan Flory.  We actually have “moon” PACs that orbit the main PACs this year.  I’m not going to get into it, but the scene for this election is so bad that Doug Chaffee is actually funding attack ads against sitting councilmen.  Think about that.

This was Travis Kiger‘s election to lose.  He was the only candidate who secured a mandate to govern by claiming a majority of votes cast in the recall.  If he loses, it’s because he squandered his political capital rather than focusing on securing change with impact.  He’s actually worked the top items in his agenda, but that’s taken a backseat to discussions on DUI checkpoints, marijuana dispensaries, and his alleged activities on FFFF (hey, heads up folks– he’s also the webmaster here.  Dr. Diamond isn’t exactly a fan, so maybe learn a little bit about what a webmaster actually does.)  Right or wrong, he conceded running on his record to running on his political beliefs, which is much harder to do.   He is pro-police reform (some would say to a fault) and for corporate welfare in Coyote Hills.

This was also Bruce Whitaker‘s election to lose, but I don’t think he will.  That said, taking money from the Slidebar and missing the second campaign finance filing date were freshman mistakes.  Neither he nor Mr. Kiger have been intimidated by opposition fronted by the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association, which means we can probably forecast with a fair degree of certainty as to how Mr. Whitaker would vote if elected to a second term.  What you see is what you get and the boat isn’t going to change course to avoid a headwind.  He is pro-police reform (again, some would say to a fault) and for corporate welfare in Coyote Hills.

Jennifer Fitzgerald is alone in running a wholly positive campaign.  I’ve questioned her on a few issues: Her position on why Coyote Hills is a property rights issue, her campaign finances– which include funding from more corporations/PACs than any other candidate running, and why she thinks that city council members should work for free.  I received no comments on the first two, and a brief thoughtful Facebook reply on the third.  Her campaign has been executed well, with a professional and polished facade, but a lack of concreteness in how her ideas would be executed makes me question how sturdy the platform actually is.  I think she’d be competent, but this looks like a stepping stone for her, which I’m not thrilled with.  She was anti-recall and is for corporate welfare in Coyote Hills.  She’s made a statement supporting soliciting a bid from the OC Sheriff for police services in Fullerton, but I’m not ready to slap the “pro-police reform” sticker on this paragraph.  Again, her position seems not as solid as it should and what good looks like with regard to the FPD seems a bit half baked.

Rick Alvarez‘s position going into election day is not what I expected when I looked at the recall election results on June 6.  Rick seems like a hard working guy with good intentions, but his stance on issues has suffered from lack of clarity.  I can tell you that he stands for unity, but I can’t tell you much else.  The endorsement and independent expenditures from Fullerton’s public safety unions plucked his candidacy from a disappointing third place finish in June to a contender in November’s race.  He’ll likely out poll Jane Rands, the candidate who finished runner up and ahead of Alvarez in June, in large part to union dollars.  Rick has contributed several new ideas at council meetings over the last several months– including an option to allow Fullerton water rate payers to forgo a refund and instead fund water system improvements.  I’m personally a big fan of his idea to incorporate academic training into a local soccer team’s athletic regime.  Rick (I think, it’s hard to tell even in a direct answer to me) is for corporate welfare in Coyote Hills and has worn a Blue I <3 FPD shirt during council meetings.

Jan Flory is running to return to the dais.  She opposed the recall and has regularly criticized Mr. Kiger and Whitaker since the new council was seated in July.  If this election feels a lot like the June election, in both tone and as if Tony Bushala were actually running, it’s largely because of Ms. Flory and her supporters.  A significant portion of her financial backers funded Larry Bennett’s s anti-recall work and are also funding Mr. Bankhead’s campaign.  Her campaign represents a desire to eradicate recent history and return things to they way they were on July 4, 2011, meaning I haven’t seen any forward looking vision but rather “Fullerton was fine the way it was and the current council is trying to destroy that.  Vote for me and I’ll put things back the way they were.”  Ms. Flory has raised significant funding on her own and has also received significant independent expenditures backing her candidacy from public safety unions.  She is for corporate welfare in Coyote Hills and is a member of the Blue I <3 FPD shirt club.  She’s probably the most likely non-incumbent to pick up a seat tomorrow and replace SQS on the dias.

**Of note, in case it got lost– not one person in this tier has the guts to say “NO” to Chevron.  That really sucks, Fullerton.  You’ll get the leadership you deserve on Tuesday.  Get out and vote.**

The Pack

Barry Levinson ran a different campaign from his last two elections, which wasn’t what I expected after his race against Doug Chaffee and Matt Rowe in June.  Barry’s messaging moved from “A reformer like these other reformers” to one of “I’m my own man.”  I think that’s healthy and a good move, but I don’t think it’s enough to win.  Barry fronted the majority of his campaign finance from his own checkbook and he’s attended all (if not all, pretty darn close) council meetings held in the last three years.  Where Ms. Fitzgerald lacks substance, Barry makes up in spades.  He’s put his time in representing the community at the speaker’s podium and in the field.  He’s well informed and well intentioned.  But, where Ms. Fitzgerald’s campaign likens to first class (perhaps she’d prefer business class), Mr. Levinson’s is more like economy.  He’ll find it difficult to pick up the needed votes for the 3rd seat, but he  has much broader support than he’s enjoyed previously.  I don’t get the impression that Barry is using his city council run to set himself up for another office later on and those considering Ms. Fitzgerald ought to give Mr. Levinson a second look.   He is against corporate welfare in Coyote Hills and is pro-police reform.

Jane Rands is, in my opinion, the best candidate running in this race.  Her lack of campaign funding ought to be viewed as an asset as she’s not beholden to any special interests, but unfortunately will hinder her odds of securing a seat.  If every candidate ran their council race as she’s run hers, we could have funded the year-round homeless shelter that everyone thinks is such a good idea using only the extraneous campaign funding.  Think about that– we’d rather have glossy mailers and hit pieces than a real solution to a significant obstacle hindering healing in our community.  A vote for Jane is a vote for change, better politics, and a bright future in Fullerton.  She is against corporate welfare in Coyote Hills and is pro-police reform.

Don Bankhead is running to be the only candidate in history to return to the same office from which he was recalled, twice.  His website doesn’t acknowledge he was ever recalled and hasn’t been updated since he ran in 2010, which means it also carries all the same endorsements from when he ran last time.  Something’s not right here: The guy either believes we’re still in 2010 and that Kelly Thomas never happened, or he thinks it’s cool to pretend that it never happened.  In either case, he’s an embarrassment to Fullerton.  Mr. Bankhead should have resigned his position rather than force a recall where he lost 2:1 and he should have stayed home rather than run for city council again.  His refusal to do what’s right for Fullerton, despite it not being right for him, means he shouldn’t even for a second be a person you consider casting a vote for.  He is for corporate welfare in Coyote Hills and is a member of the blue shirt club.

Vivian “Kitty” Jaramillo is the second candidate with an endorsement from the Democratic party.  Kitty is very pleasant in person and means well.  I exchanged a few notes with her regarding campaign finance and each of her answers is well thought out.  I regret not having time to write the piece as her perspective on pension reform and a path forward is absolutely valuable and will likely be forgotten in the upcoming Pension War.  Kitty’s success in this race largely depends on her ability to ride on Jan Flory’s ticket and how well the FPOA’s independent expenditures against Kiger and Whitaker free up votes.  I don’t see her out polling in the top three, so it’ll be interesting to see what she does next.   She is against corporate welfare in Coyote Hills and is a member of the blue shirt club.

In the Wilderness

Matthew Hakim — Can’t be spoken for; can only be spoken about.

Roberta Reid — Good intentions; not suited for a council race in Fullerton.  Too many obstacles for her to compete.

Brian Bartholomew — Not enough horsepower to make an impact in this crowded field.  Better question is what he does next?  Hopefully he can parlay some of the capital he’s earned during the run to benefit our community going forward.  There shouldn’t be any vote total that comes in tomorrow that’s disappointing to the Bartholomew campaign.


About Ryan Cantor

Our conservative columnist, raised in North Orange County, works as an Analyst and Strategic Planner.