CA-40: You can’t trust Joe Kerr – vote Allyson!

[Originally published in the OC Register, 2/22/2024; and including the sentences they left out!]

At this point, voters in the north county’s 40th district who are trying to pick a candidate that can beat Young Kim and help end the madness and paralysis in this nation may be confused about which Democrat they can trust.  You can trust Allyson Muñiz Damikolas, the chemical engineer and elected education leader.  Joe Kerr, not so much.

Allyson is the only one to win elected office – Tustin School Board – and she then fended off a culture-war recall accusing her falsely of forcing the dread “Critical Race Theory” on our schoolchildren.  Joe, on the other hand, has never won any of his previous races.  But he has been polluting your mailboxes and airwaves with truly Trump-grade lies (fashioned with the help of his Republican consultants i77 Strategies.)

You may be wondering, if you saw his latest mailer, how he could have “successfully passed over 200 bills and initiatives” when he has never held elected office? 

Well, that’s a good question, but you don’t have much time to think about it before he tells you that Allyson “believes in chem-trails” and is therefore some kind of rightwing conspiracy nut.  This should be beneath response, but here goes: Joe cherrypicked six words out of an answer chemical engineer Allyson was giving to a question about fossil fuels.

Also beneath response: a recent mailer accusing her of “funding” all manner of reactionary causes, based on mutual funds in her IRA/401k accounts – something many of us have, and of course we don’t have control or knowledge of every little place those get invested in by managers like Vanguard or Fidelity.  How do we have this sort of information about Allyson and not Joe?  Because she holds elected office and Joe doesn’t – so her financial holdings are public record.  We’re sure Joe’s holdings are the same or worse.

Allyson has been calling herself the only candidate who is 100% pro-choice, a bold but supportable claim  considering Planned Parenthood has given Joe a 100% rating.  But we submit that august institution did not do its due diligence, and the rating is based on questionnaires Joe filled out during his previous losing campaigns.  A politician should be judged not on how they fill out questionnaires, but what they have actually done.

And here’s what Joe Kerr has done, in regard to women’s right to choose:  Throughout his 17-year stint as President of the OC Firefighters Union, he poured thousands of dollars into the campaigns of Republican politicians who were anti-choice, and anti-gay rights, as long as they voted to give firefighters higher wages, pensions, and benefits.  Van Tran.  Todd Spitzer.  Ken Maddox.  The list goes on.  This is not a pro-choice record.

Who remembers Poseidon, the $1.5 billion desalination boondoggle Orange County was almost stuck with until the Coastal Commission thankfully put a stake in its heart last year?  It would have raised all our water rates considerably, for the benefit of a Canadian hedge fund group, and not given us a single drop of additional water.  Meanwhile it would have been an environmental nightmare.  But it would have provided a few temporary union construction jobs, and that’s enough for some people.

And to Governor Gavin Newsom, it fit his statewide water plans.  We don’t always disagree with Newsom, but he does think of Orange County as a dumping ground, and wanted to stick us with Poseidon, which happened to be lobbied for by his friends who put on that notorious “French Laundry” lunch during Covid.

So Governor Newsom appointed Joe Kerr to the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, along with Anaheim klepto-Republican Kris Murray, to push through this pet project of his with as little restrictions as possible.  And Joe Kerr followed his orders no questions asked.  In fact, Joe and Kris were such troopers they voted to not make Poseidon do any environmental mitigation!

And that’s why Newsom endorsed Joe Kerr for Congress last month, but Newsom doesn’t know what’s good for Orange County.  We deserve an independent, intelligent, honest representative who evaluates each project on its merits and doesn’t follow anyone’s orders.  We deserve Allyson Muñiz Damikolas.

My own inability to trust Joe Kerr dates back to 2018 and his first unsuccessful run for OC Supervisor.  He was living, as he always has, in Coto De Caza, but telling everyone he’d moved to Fullerton Brea so he could run for the open seat there.  At first I thought he might be telling the truth about where he lived, and he seemed at least better than Doug Chaffee or Tim Shaw, so I offered to meet him and interview him at his new north county home.

At the last minute he called and said, “Let’s meet instead at the Placentia Fire Station – I’m a firefighter you know!  We can have a beer.”  I didn’t bother, and I haven’t trusted him since.  That was illegal, lying about his residence to run for Supervisor, and it’s a shame he was never prosecuted.

District 40 voters, remember all this when you get the next dozen lying mailers about Allyson.  She’s the one who can beat Young Kim and help us take back the House, so our nation can finally get back to slowing climate change, restoring women’s rights, and defending itself from the MAGA assault on democracy.

Vern Nelson, a Democrat, runs the Orange Juice Blog, Orange County’s only independent political blog.

Next Register piece: “Scott Baugh is dying to run against Dave Min!”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.