Mailbag: Take it from a longtime election advocate, voting does matter
I have spent a lifetime encouraging people of all ages to vote. It all began in 1974 when I created the nonprofit California Voter Group, a Laguna Beach-based educational organization working with high school students.
Then, in the 1980s, I helped manage numerous city council and two statewide campaigns. Clearly, voter turnout played a major role in every one of those races. The same is true in 2020.
Even though I am not directly involved in any campaigns now, I write about politics nearly every day. I guess it’s fair to say I consider voting more than my civic responsibility. It’s my passion.
I am in my 70s now, so I don’t know how many more elections I will see in my lifetime. That said, I do know this: I am a proud American who truly believes my vote has always counted.
My sincere hope is Daily Pilot readers feel the same way about their vote.
I am very distressed by all the negative campaigning against Newport Beach Councilman Jeff Herdman. I have known him since he helped our neighborhood fight the Museum House high-rise tower in Newport Center. His tireless work to protect Newport Beach from airport expansion speaks for itself. In my capacity as president of the Harbor View Hills Community Assn., I have invited him to speak at our annual meetings. He has always been willing to give us his time and attention and listen to our concerns. He stays in touch and follows through on our issues. I am very proud to endorse Jeff Herdman for reelection to the City Council.
Ersoylu fills all the boxes
We will be lucky to have Leah Ersoylu on the Newport-Mesa Unified board of education. As every super pundit on TV says, “She fills all the boxes,” or as my Maine grandmother would say, “She’s a very nice girl.”
She’s more than a nice girl. You know how some of you worry about sending your kids back to school and wonder whether the district is going to keep them safe? With Leah on the board you won’t have to worry because she will make sure it is absolutely safe before one kid steps foot on that campus.
Further, Leah will tell you everything. Her questions will be answered because she won’t give up until they are. Do teachers have everything they need? Do we have enough custodians? At what times of day will the classrooms be sanitized? How will the high school students pass to the next class? How does the restroom situation look?
Parents and community members who feel you are not heard or respected, Leah understands that. Here are some of things that would not have happened if Leah had been on the board: The toxic smell at Estancia High School would not have sickened teachers — and no one knows how many students — for years. The Estancia pool wouldn’t have been emptied ruining the swim teams for a year, and the insane contract would have been accurate and signed. The CdM cheating scandal would have been transparent and resolved fairly. The rats might have only vacationed at Newport Harbor High School for a day instead of hanging around for months. The swastika nightmare would have been handled differently and much better by the district administration, and maybe just maybe, civics might be taught in this district.
Right about now you will be saying to yourself, “Is this woman nuts? Leah is only one person on the board, and she can’t do all that.”
But she won’t be alone. There are three incredible people who will be on the board with her. Leah Ersoylu, Ashley Anderson, Amy Peters and Carol Crane will change this district.
Thoughts on Rodriguez’s resignation
A pandemic, social unrest, rising hate crimes, political polarization — not only on the world and national stage but also on the local scene in Orange County and in my hometown of Huntington Beach. With the resignation of interim Huntington Beach Police Chief Kelly Rodriguez, due to “divisiveness in the community and within the Police Department” has the turmoil become too much for even our public safety professionals to face? Prima facie evidence would suggest that the answer is yes.
My hope is that the arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice and peace. But the bending of that arc is up to us human beings.
I don’t blame interim Huntington Beach Police Chief Kelly Rodriguez for resigning from her post given the position the H.B. Police Management Assn. took to smear three candidates running for City Council. The association allowed the Cal Pacific PAC to use their logo on a political hit piece that questions the integrity and patriotism of three candidates. I did some research on the flier that attacks candidates Dan Kalmick, Natalie Moser and Oscar Rodriguez. As your article notes, the flier was the work of a PAC called Cal Pacific. This opposition piece cost $15,000 and was paid for by six individuals and companies including Huntington Beach City Atty. Michael Gates, former Councilman Devin Dwyer, Surf City Auto Group and Huntington Beach Police Officer Chris Nesmith. How patriotic is it to misinform voters and try to create divisiveness by creating fear and spreading lies? The three candidates they attacked have several things in common including: the experience to represent the city, common sense and my vote.
Wrong about Rouda
The inaccurate letter on Harley Rouda from William Phinizy in the Daily Pilot Mailbag cannot go unchallenged. First, Rep. Harley Rouda has provided fair, honest and productive representation not only for his constituents in Congressional District 48 but for all citizens in Orange County.
Rouda votes with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats when they are right and reasonable in contrast to his GOP opponent, Michelle Steel, who would follow the dangerous discredited policies of President Trump in lockstep. She is not independent and would not be effective in the current Congress. Rouda gets things done and done well. Rouda has been and remains a moderate voice in his party. Steel has no voice. Phinizy tries clumsily to smear Rouda with guilt by association to other groups when everybody knows better.
Citing the suspect ultraconservative Washington Free Beacon (only publishing since 2012 and original employer of Fusion GPS of the Christopher Steele Dossier fame) does not give the letter writer any credibility.
It is Michelle Steel that we should be fearful of and not Harley Rouda. We should also be fearful of Steel supporters like William Phinizy who will say and do anything to misrepresent the facts.
Petrie-Norris stands out
In 2018 Orange County was graced with the election of several new dynamic representatives to stand up for us in Sacramento and Washington: U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Harley Rouda and state Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. Now in 2020 we have the opportunity to add Dave Min, a candidate for state Senate, to that dynamic group. All these representatives are looking toward the future, trying to solve people-oriented problems, bringing energy to an area that had been stagnating under the weight of a one-party system with an overly familiar script of no taxes and antigovernment rhetoric.
Among these rising new stars is Petrie-Norris, who has been representing the 74th California Assembly District for two years. I was so impressed with what Cottie has accomplished that I and a close friend hosted a meet-and-greet for her at my west Newport Beach home. One focus of Cottie has been to champion policies to expand access to healthcare and improve health outcomes for patients. She is backed by nurses because of her fight to secure critical supplies of personal protective equipment for hospitals in Orange County.
Cottie also focuses on the science of climate change, working on legislation that protects our coast from rising sea level and helps keep our coastlines clean. She supports clean air regulations and has worked to support habitat restoration projects and improve public access to coastal resources. She is extremely well liked by her constituents, and her excellent people skills combined with her ability to tackle so many issues is extraordinary. She is tenacious in working on the problems that plague her district.
Hope for Laguna’s future
During an election, emotions run wild and acrimony occurs. Despite this, this election has given me hope for our future here in Laguna Beach.
Of course I want and hope to win, but no matter the result, I will be happy I chose to run for reelection to the City Council. I was threatened with a vile and despicable smear campaign, but I chose to run because if I didn’t, it would only encourage cowards that their bullying tactics had worked, and that would set a bad precedent for everyone in town.
The hit pieces against me and several of my fellow candidates have come and gone. The seemingly unanimous reaction of the voters I have met has been to reject this kind of campaign. I have had an overwhelming number of emails, texts, phone calls and face-to-face conversations with residents, all of whom have expressed empathy for the pain this has caused my family and me.
My primary campaign technique is to walk door to door and try to speak to as many residents as possible. I have visited almost 4,000 homes already. It is these interactions that have given me so much hope.
At one house, a busy man looked up at me from his worktable and said, “Don’t waste your time, I’m not voting for you.”
I left and went to the next few houses and was now several hundred yards from this fellow’s house when I heard him calling my name. When he got close enough to speak, he stopped and said, “I mistook you for someone else. We love you in our house, and we’re voting for you.”
He didn’t need to do that, but he thought it was important to not hurt my feelings and to let me know how he felt.
At another house, I could see the lady was in a hurry. She raced to get in her car and back out of the driveway. She gunned her engine and was pulling out when she slammed on her brakes and rolled down her window. She then said, “Steve! We’re voting for you. Thanks for your service.”
A final example: I was walking up a steep hill, and a woman came running up behind me. She stopped me and said, “I’m just letting you know, I’m not voting for you, but I still want to talk to you.” We then engaged in a half-hour conversation about city matters, life and our personal situations. At the end of the conversation, she said ”I feel I really know you as a person and we share so many things in common including our values that now I am going to vote for you.”
Regardless of who wins the election, the winners will be people who ran for the right reason: to make Laguna an even better place. During the candidate forums, I have seen that even though our positions are widely divergent, we are all sincere and can work with people with whom we disagree. And that gives me hope.
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