The Grassroots is Thrilled with These Two Female First-Time Candidates




[Editor’s Note: With two weeks left until Election Day, we can’t devote enough of our limited space (limited in part, of course, by our readers collective attention span and willingness to look for articles to click on beyond what’s at the very top of our “recent posts” list), but we’ll be combining some races we’d like to highlight into joint stories to which both campaigns can link (if they so choose).  Unlike most stories, we may be adding more and more details to these as new news develops — so keep an eye on them!  Here’s your first such deeper dive.]

Every year, there are a few candidates who come to my attention because when I researched them I thought that they merited broader attention (this year that would include Martin Varona, Diedre Nguyen, Carrie Lundell, and Adam Ereth, among others).  I other cases, I focus on them because all sorts of people start excitedly talking them up all over the place before I even know who they are.

This year, that latter category includes two women who seem to have attracted especially enthusiastic grassroots followings: Danett Abbott-Wicker, a candidate for Orange City Council Seat 3, and Misty Janssen of Placentia-Yorba Linda School District Trustee Area 3.  We’ll take a closer look at both.

Two strong women with grassroots support!

Danett Abbott-Wicker, running for Orange City Council, at left; at right, Marine Sgt. Misty Janssen, running for School Board in Yorba Linda.

Danett Abbott-Wicker

We’ll be having someone is Orange City Council District 3 write about Danett (along the lines of what you see for Misty Janssen below) before long, but I can attest to the powerful excitement her supporters have about her — including our Chairman Vern Nelson, who worked with her on the campaign to put Andy Thorburn onto the OC Board of Education to replace Madcap Ken Williams.  (In retrospect, that race was even more important than we had imagined.)   The argument for Danett comes in two parts: first, how good she is, and second, the exquisite awfulness of her opponent, current Mayor Mike Alvarez.

Abbott-Wicker favors the intelligent application of progressive policies such as Orange providing its share of affordable housing, mentioning the city’s failing mall, the Village at Orange, as a possible location — although I don’t recommend living in an old Walmart until there’s an exorcism —  and moving some policing public contact functions to social workers who are more adept at dealing non-violently with people mental heath issues.  (This is sometimes referred to inaccurately as “defunding the police” — but it’s more like bringing the right tools to do the job, ideally non-deadly ones.)

Abbott-Wicker’s district went for Sanders in this year’s March primary, so this is a good seat for someone who can  bring an enlightened progressive perspective to the City Council.  (Is it really so offensive to listen to a fellow Council member who believes that Black and Brown lives do matter?)  She may be outvoted much of the time — but if the rest of the Council is smart, they’ll listen to her and incorporate what they have to acknowledge makes sense.

The other argument for Abbott-Wicker is that she is not, in any respect, dismal incumbent Mike Alvarez, who has given only lip service at best to these sorts of thorny issues of housing and policing.

As the Voice of OC has noted, Alvarez has made a mockery of the city’s term limits that both he and the voters have supported.  This may well lead to a courtroom face-off, potentially an expensive one for the city, between statewide districting advocate Kevin Shenkman and Garden Grove’s Mark Rosen over whether the time limits were eliminated when the city moved to district elections.  (Rosen, as I recall, successfully pushed this interpretation when Miguel Pulido was term-limited out.)  But that’s not really even the main point: the intention of the voters was clear, and an honorable politician would honor it.

Alvarez also has a repulsive authoritarian streak: on his media where he quotes Wisconsin’s former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to the effect that the citizenry just needs to keep their mouths shut and not challenge authority.  Alvarez refuses to answer questions and tells voters that the issues are to complex for them.  They certainly seem to be too complex for him, unless telling other cities to take in the homeless is considered a brilliant response.

(We have a personal recommendation of Abbott-Wicker from a district resident coming up — and this is where it will go when it arrives!)

Misty Janssen

I asked a friend in the district to see if some parent in the Placentia-Yorba Linda School District would like to explain why she was so great.  That parent — not normally someone political, who requested to publish anonymously — came back with this great excellent answer, which I’ll print in attention-demanding and politically neutral purple:

Misty Janssen is Better than Great

“Great” doesn’t mean much. “Great” is defined as considerably “above average.”  “Great” is just the bare minimum we should be striving for. If “great” is your measure of excellence, you simply aren’t good enough for our kids. As a parent in PYLUSD with over another decade in the district ahead of me, I know I speak for other parents when I say our kids deserve better than “great.”

Our kids deserve “exceptional.” Our kids deserve “extraordinary.” Our kids deserve “special.” Our kids deserve an educational ecosystem that is far superior to “great.” That includes a school board made of dedicated individuals with one priority – facilitating an exceptional learning environment for all of our kids.

Our kids deserve Misty Janssen.

From private enterprise to the military to the government to our religious houses and our communities, one thing is clear – what delivers exceptional results consistently is collaboration, focus, and dedication. Our kids deserve someone who understands the dynamics of delivering a quality education. Someone who understands all the needs of everyone involved while putting our kids first.

Schools don’t work without teachers – we need board members that appreciate the unique role that our educators have in our community, someone that understands what kids need, what teachers need, and how to bring it all together. Misty has decades of service to others. From her time in the Marines to her years of service to the district as an engaged mom of 5, she has constantly shown an ability to make the needs of others paramount.

Our school board doesn’t need combative political puppets and the toxicity they bring. Our school board needs people dedicated to our kids and to our community.

Our kids deserve Misty Janssen.

We live in a community that may not be recognized for its diversity, but one that proudly wears it’s compassion and graciousness as a badge of honor. This community is made up of families that take care of their neighbors and support each other whenever help is needed. Misty exemplifies the spirit of our community and we need this presence on our school board.

Our communities want what’s best for all of our kids, so we need a school board that puts all of our kids on an equal playing field, making sure they all have an environment where they can learn and grow and perform to their highest potential. Misty is the only candidate that can speak for all of our families, because Misty is the only candidate that values all of our families equally.

Where other candidates attack and demonize people that are different from them, Misty sees the only thing that matters – a goal of giving all of our kids, regardless of who they are or what their background may be, an opportunity to be the best version of themselves, without fearing who they are or what board members may think of them.

Our kids deserve Misty Janssen.

We live in some of the most divisive times in our history. We cannot let the divisiveness of partisan politics creep into our school board. Misty is supported by families of all backgrounds, all politics, all values.  Misty understands you can’t foster a community on divisiveness and hostility. Her unique ability to put aside what doesn’t matter and focus on what does really sets her apart – its this skillset that drives her focus and dedication to the board and its goals. Her record of service to our schools speaks volumes – she’s not only seen her 5 kids go through our district and experienced first hand what different kids and different learning styles mean, but countless other kids in our community that she’s been able to support, directly or indirectly.

All of her experience lends itself to an open-minded and unbiased perspective, where she can listen to all sides of all issues, as complicated as they may be, allowing her to act in the best interest of our community, without partisan motivations clouding her judgement. Our board, our community needs someone that knows when to speak, knows when to listen, and knows how to put the needs of everyone in our community ahead above all else.

Our kids deserve Misty Janssen.

Other candidates wear their political party endorsements proudly. They aren’t anything to be proud of. They’ll bring their partisan toxicity into our board and consume it the same way it’s consumed everything else. Our school board is no place for this baggage, or any baggage. It’s no place for someone with a history of violence or any one that is anti-any-religion. They denigrate and attack our teachers, most of which are members of this community, completely ignorant to the realities around us.

These types of candidates may believe they belong in public service, but it’s not on our board and it’s as far away from our kids as possible. We need board members that can focus on our kids and our teachers and our community, not ones that are owned by their party bosses and whatever special interests they bring to the table.

We need board members that live PYLUSD, not ones that don’t send their kids here and have no idea what amazing educators we have in place. We need people that are vested into what’s best for the families of PYLUSD, not ones that treat the board as a side project while their kids go to school elsewhere. Our kids need someone that is focused 100% on all of their well-being and potential, regardless of color, ethnicity, gender, or anything else, not candidates consumed by prejudice or bigotry or distractions or competing interests.

Our kids deserve Misty Janssen.

We have 25,000 students in PYLUSD, and each one of them matters. They will be the best versions of themselves because we have amazing teachers and administrators that deliver exceptionally, consistently. These educators overwhelmingly support Misty, because in Misty they see someone that understands the needs of all of our kids, while being able to filter out the noise that doesn’t belong in our school board.

Our community needs a board that ensures that the highest level of education is the only thing that matters, our teachers need a board that gives them the best chance to deliver a quality education, and our kids need a board that gives them their best chance to excel. We know who that candidate is, and we know our families and our kids deserve better than great.

Our kids deserve Misty Janssen.

I hesitate to add anything for fear of detracting from that, but a couple of more things warrant emphasis.  First, as you’ll find from her website, 1st Sgt. Misty Janssen (whose military nickname you’ll find at 0:05 of her introductory video; I’m not spilling the beans here!) has served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves for almost 20 years.  She is currently a drilling reservist and oversees Marines with Engineer Services Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 23.  (Experience in drilling and in logistics, plus five kids, seems like a good combination for a Board member!)

She has also been a longtime admirer of departing incumbent, previously OJB-endorsed Judy Carmona, in whose policy footsteps she intends to follow.  I’ll crib just this bit from Janssen’s bio:

I am the proud mother of 5 amazing kids, who have attended 6 different schools in the district. With 2 kids already graduated from high school, and 3 kiddos still actively enrolled there is never a dull moment.   Over the last 10 years I have loved being involved in our schools and classrooms in diverse capacities. Because I have kids that all learn very differently, I have had the opportunity to help in shelter classes, general curriculum and GATE classes. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have found so many advocates and partners along the way.

That is some pretty good experience for Board service right there!

Of the other three candidates, Susan Metcalf would be my choice were it not for Janssen, and Mike Nicosia seems like a decent traditionalist conservative who doesn’t have much specific experience for this position.   But the final competitor — she demands some comment!  Our anonymous contributor seems not to like confrontational politics, but I think that it’s fair to hold the tone and content of someone’s publicly published words against them.  So I’ll quote from the candidate statement of Janssen’s opponent, Leandra Blades:

Our schools have become political outlets rather than a place to learn the basics. I will fight to return traditional curriculum to the classrooms and protect our children from extreme ideologies.  Parents should be in control of teaching personal morals and values and should feel confident their children are receiving the best education possible, free from biased agendas. I will stand up for the quality education all our students deserve. As political winds shift, curriculum should remain rooted in the facts. My values remain consistent. I will not be pressured, particularly by those who do not have our students’ best interests at heart.

So if you want

– pointless lawsuits brought against the stat

– to be the target of discrimination lawsuits

– student ignorance about biology, civics, and culture

– students unprepared for admission to the strongest colleges and universities, and

– wrecking public education to benefit charter schools

thrn I guess you can vote for her.  But I’d like to think that Yorba Linda’s slogan about “Gracious Living” means something — and, goodness gracious, this isn’t it.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr 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. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)