Those familiar with my articles, sporadic as they are, know that one of my pet peeves is a carpet-bagger candidate, especially in local elections.
My annoyance with carpet-bagging started when then-Democratic congressional nominee Linda Sanchez moved to Lakewood in 2002 just to run in the newly-drawn 39thCongressional District. Democrats already had an experienced legislator, former Assemblymember Sally Havice, running. Using union connections and nasty political tactics, Sanchez beat Havice and other challengers in the Democratic Primary, and went on to defeat local businessman / U.S. Army Veteran Tim Escobar in the general election. Havice was so upset with both Sanchez’s tactics and the lack of response from the local Democratic Party that she endorsed Republican Tim Escobar in the general election. Even then, the Democratic Party was willing to snub local representation to ensure support from outside special interests loyal to the Sanchez family, including “big sister” Congressmember Loretta.
Fast forward to this year, residents of the 15thCouncil District of Los Angeles are watching the “return of past residents”, triggered by Congressmember Janice Hahn’s July election, to run for her vacant city council seat. Mailers are full of historical information about how these candidates grew up in San Pedro and “never really left”; how they’ve “always had their heart here”, and other catchy phrases. I have made the suicidal (or courageous, depending on your point of view) decision to endorse a local friend, Joe Buscaino, who has always called the district home and has fought side-by-side with me on local issues. City Council members should know the communities they represent, and should not have to be acquainted (or re-acquiainted) with them after they are elected. Joe is a registered Democrat – but my pet peeve of carpet-bagging and pretending to be more involved in the community than witnessed trumps any membership card or business relationship.
At least it does for me…I cannot say the same for out-going Rancho Palos Verdes City Councilmember & current Mayor Tom Long, or for that matter, the Democratic Party of Los Angeles County.
The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council has three seats up for election this November. All three incumbents, including Long, are termed out. The 2009 elections of fellow Republicans Brian Campbell and Anthony Misetich began a sweeping change to the council’s approach to local issues. However, many controversial issues have still fallen to a 3-2 decision against the side of fiscal accountability or government accountability. This November’s election will be a major referendum on the current term’s performance, specifically out-going members like Mayor Long, against the momentum started in 2009 by local conservatives. Most of this year’s candidates qualify as “local activists” who, regardless of their sides on various issues, still meet my definition as local candidates. In fact, all but one of them do…
RPV Newcomer Eric Alegria moved to Rancho Palos Verdes from El Segundo earlier this year, and by July had not only publicly announced his plans to run for the city council, had already been endorsed by the Democratic Party of Los Angeles County! As one who has kept a sharp eye on RPV politics, I questioned the fast pace of this new resident’s status from “Welcome to the neighborhood” to being an early selection of leading local Democrats, snubbing popular Democratic candidates like current PVPUSD Board member Dora De La Rosa. I may not agree with De La Rosa on many issues, but I would never question her experience and engagement in the Palos Verdes community. But why would De La Rosa be snubbed by both Long and by the local Democratic Party?
It turns out that Alegria is a client of Long’s law firm, Nosseman LLP, in downtown Los Angeles. Also, Long has been raising campaign contributions internally from fellow attorneys, pointing out this fact (as well as the $99.99 contribution limit if one does not want their personal information disclosed, and the convenience of simply handing any contribution checks directly to him.)
Is this illegal? No, this is totally fine. The issue here is why Tom Long felt that there were not enough good local candidates running to replace him that he is instead endorsing a client of him that, but most definitions, would be considered a “carpet-bagger” candidate. This question also falls on the Democratic Party of LA County – Alegria is one of five Democrats running for three open seats. Why did they feel it important to snub qualified local Democratic candidates like De La Rosa and support the “importing” of a candidate to place on the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council?
This question will hopefully be addressed at one of the three upcoming candidate forums for the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council. This Wednesday, October 5th, and next Wednesday, October 12th, forums will be held by the Council of Homeowners and the League of Women Voters, respectively. Both will be at Hesse Park and both will start at 6:45 p.m. On Thursday, October 13th, Marymount College will host a forum at 6:45 p.m.
Because this election is a referendum on the performance of the outgoing council members, including Tom Long’s, the question needs to be asked: Why did Long not believe there were enough local candidates supportive of his legacy and worthy of his endorsement? Why were there not enough Democratic candidates worthy of support from the local Democratic Party?
Could it be that, even among the Democratic candidates and voters throughout Rancho Palos Verdes, there were not enough willing to run on a platform of support for either Long or the local Democratic Party? Good question….
(BTW – The Republican Party easily found three very strong LOCAL candidates, Susan Brooks, Ken Dyda and Jerry Duhovic, to represent our principles of fiscal responsibility, government accountability, and standing up for the needs of the local community. All have been proudly endorsed by the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, as well as personally by me.)