The five opponents of West San Fernando Valley Councilwoman Joy Picus found common ground Monday night as all attacked the incumbent in their first joint appearance of the campaign. But Picus was not there to reply.
Picus showed up briefly during the cocktail hour preceding the Winnetka Chamber of Commerce meeting, but did not stay for the candidates' presentations. She said she had to appear later in the night at the first meeting of Warner Center Specific Plan Advisory Committee.
To her opponents, however, her early departure provided more ammunition to use against the heavily favored incumbent. They pointed out that Picus had agreed to only one joint appearance, a March 28 debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
Picus clearly was the main topic of five-minute presentations by challengers Gil Eisner, Gary Klein, Jon Lorenzen, Matt Lynch and Jeanne Nemo. They blamed her for problems in the district ranging from crime to potholes.
Eisner called Picus a "hypocrite" for supporting a measure on the April 9 Los Angeles city ballot that would limit campaign contributions "while twisting developers' arms to attend her $100,000 dinner," a reference to a $2,000-a-table fund-raising event on Jan. 30.
Nemo accused Picus of being the "most anti-police member of the council."
Picus, reached later at home, expressed doubt that her absence hurt politically.