Start the Presses: Who they are, what they stand for

I want your campaign mailers. You know, the glossy photos of people you don't know who are running for offices that have little connection to your lives? Those.

Why? Politicians' bad rep is, no doubt, largely their own fault. California's decline in wealth and prestige can be heavily put on the shoulders of our elected types. But it's our fault as well: Apathy allows poor leadership and horrendous ideas to thrive.

Paying attention cures this, and I think this newspaper can help by highlighting what candidates have to say about themselves — and what others are saying about them.

But you need to get ready to vote first. The deadline to register for the June 5 election is, well, this Monday. Details on how to do just that can be found at www.lavote.com

You may be wondering what, exactly, is being decided. The ticket garnering the most attention — the Republican presidential primary — is all but decided, with Mitt Romney getting ready for his battle royale with President Obama in November. Every four years, it seems, California's voters get left out of this process because our primary is held so late in the season.

The manner in which we elect a president in this country is nothing short of bizarre. Not only do we not directly elect this person, instead using the confusing and weird electoral college to do so, but the candidates themselves are chosen in a manner that gives extremely tiny states — Iowa and New Hampshire — more influence than states 30 times their size — states like California.

Because of this, it's easy to see why voter apathy sets in, regardless of party affiliation. But there are many other important things to be decided on the June 5 ballot. Everyone in the county will be voting for a district attorney, Superior Court judges and state and local initiatives. Locally, we also will be voting for a state Assembly member and state Senator. These are vital and important offices.

In addition, this June makes the debut of California's open-primary system, where any voter can vote for any candidate. The top two vote-getters, even if they're from the same party, then square off against each other in the November general election.

The other side of the coin, though, is how those candidates reach you. Campaign finance — who is supporting whom, and how the candidates choose to spend the money they collect — is a vital part of the process. It is also one, unfortunately, largely unnoticed by the public.

So, as a newspaper editor, I'd like to change this, at least in a small way. We've collected a number of campaign mailers and have created an online gallery showcasing them.

At the moment, they are only from the 41st Assembly race, a seat that represents Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena and San Marino, among other areas. However, I'd like to get as complete a set as I can. To that end, I'm asking people to send the newspaper any campaign fliers they receive. We'll scan them in and put them online. Don't worry: We'll remove your address prior to putting them up.

To guard against the possibility that an ad has been altered, we will only be accepting physical copies of the mailers. Campaigns can be full of dirty tricks, and it's in everyone's best interest if the paper isn't complicit in such shenanigans.

But we also want to make it as easy as we can. If you'd like to donate your campaign mailer to us, you can do it one of three ways. First, you can mail it to us at:

Times Community News
Campaign Mailer Project
221 N. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203

Second, you can drop it off at the same address during business hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Or third, you can contract me — (818) 637-3234 or dan.evans@latimes.com — and arrange to have the mailers picked up from you.

This should be very interesting. I'm looking forward to it.

DAN EVANS is the editor. When he's not getting paper cuts from thumbing through election guides, he can be found at dan.evans@latimes.com or (818) 637-3234

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