(3/30/10) Editorial – 2010 Election Candidate Endorsements – Joe Mosca for Mayor!

This editorial is the opinion of Bill Coburn, publisher of Sierra Madre News Net and 15 year Sierra Madre resident. It is not intended to reflect the views of any other person or entity with whom I am associated.

I doubt anyone is going to be particularly surprised by my endorsements, but you might be surprised to learn that I was inches away from endorsing four candidates for the three spots, or endorsing three with an honorable mention.  But then the candidate in question, Pat Alcorn, sent me an e-mail that actually made me realize that the reasoning she was providing to me for endorsing the other members of her slate should actually be the reasoning I used in making my decision, and that cost her my endorsement.  More on that a little later.

Okay, no surprise, Mosca, Moran and Walsh.

Joe Mosca should be the highest vote getter in this election, as he was in 2006, and should, based on his record, receive the support of the town’s residents.  Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation has been spread, and there have been some very visible personal attacks by his opponents, which will mean Joe won’t generate as many votes this time around.  The fact that Joe has chosen to de-emphasize defending himself but instead put the emphasis on the positive that has been done during his time on the Council is evidence of the kind of candidate he is (though he did screw up big time on his postcard mailer, which made it appear he was personally responsible for accomplishments when it was the entire council that accomplished things).  You may have noticed at the Candidate Forum that he tried to correct that, by his repeated use (almost overuse) of the word “we” when discussing the council’s accomplishments.  Hopefully, if he sends out another mailer, it will also correct that error.

Joe is the hardest working Council member I’ve seen in my 15 years in town.  He also is the most knowledgeable candidate, though there have been a couple others that were close, including one current council member, John Buchanan.  I’ve asked Joe about a whole bunch of different things relating to City business over the last four years, and he always knew the answer.  And if he doesn’t know or understand something, he’s not afraid to ask about it.  For example, I was watching the budget meeting from June of 2009 the other night.  One PD position had been frozen, and Joe wanted to know whether/where in the budget the funding for that position had been allocated.  None of the other council members thought to ask that question.

One more time – Joe didn’t decide not to put the DSP to a vote of the people, he in fact prepared a resolution that called for greater community input in the DSP process, and put in place a timeline for completion of the DSP, eventually putting it on the ballot for voter approval.  That resolution was passed by the City Council.  But his detractors conveniently forget that, because he didn’t vote to put the issue on the ballot per the time schedule they wanted, in the manner they wanted it on the ballot.  Kind of reminds me of the kid in the neighborhood that takes the ball home, ending the game, if the rest of the team doesn’t play the game by his rules.  And after all, why let the truth get in the way?

I spend a lot of time attending meetings with various regional organizations, and when Joe’s name has come up, the people that I have spoken with at these meetings all hold Joe in high regard.  The same can’t be said for all the candidates, and I think we might be taking a step backwards in relationship building with other cities and other regional organizations if we elect the wrong people and they end up representing us poorly to other communities and regional organizations.

As to the complaint that Joe has brought partisan politics into a local election – it wasn’t Joe that brought up the fact that he received these endorsements, it was his opponents.  Yes, he was endorsed, but find me some Mosca campaign literature somewhere that says that, or video from the forums where Joe discussed it.  You can’t.  The fact is that many of Joe’s biggest supporters are from the other party, and it would be counterproductive for Joe to brag about the endorsement locally.  While it makes sense to seek the endorsement, so that the locals that are members of the organizations and who value that endorsement are aware he has received it, Joe never, to my knowledge, brought the endorsements into the campaign.  Had his opponents kept their mouths shut, I don’t think there would have been any interjection of partisan politics into this campaign.  I find it fascinating that his opponents complain so loudly that he brought partisan politics into the campaign, when in fact it was their complaints that did it.

The truly sad part is, that I’m spending so much time defending Joe, when his record as Council member should make him a lock, when what I should be doing is promoting the other candidates I’m endorsing.  So the tactics of his opponents paid off, by drawing attention away from where it deserves to be.

Nancy Walsh worked in County government for nearly thirty years.  Thanks to all that experience, she knows how local government works, and she also knows how regional government works.  That’s how she managed to obtain some thirty thousand dollars through a donation recycling program that has benefited the City.  She has also served this City well for several years, working on the Senior Master Plan, sitting on the Senior Community Commission, including serving as its Chair.  I didn’t know Nancy well before this election, though we’d met a time or two.  But I thought she acquitted herself well, for the most part, at the City Hall Candidate Forum, and though I was only at the Kiwanis forum for a short time, I thought she did well there, too (though I wasn’t impressed by the “I must be awesome” comment when she was asked about the Tattler’s article about her, seemed a little silly to me).

Anyway, I sat down and talked with Nancy to get to know her a little better, and to ask her about the things that concerned me.  After talking with her for about an hour and a half, I came away more impressed than I thought I would.  She has an open mind, she has experience, she is pretty sharp at analyzing things, and I trust her.  Again, I can’t say that about all the candidates.

Josh Moran has lived in Sierra Madre most of his life.  Don’t let his opponents mislead you, Josh didn’t move here two days before the filing deadline.  Josh made it pretty clear at the Kiwanis meeting that he had moved back to town a year and a half ago, he just hadn’t updated his voter registration.  But they won’t let a little thing like the truth get in the way of them telling you what they want you to believe.

Josh and I were part of the All-America City team that went down and made a presentation in 2007 when Sierra Madre won the award.  Josh was enthusiastic, and it was very clear that he both loved and took pride in his home town.  So much so, that he spent a lot of time practicing the program and then traveling to Anaheim to be there for the presentation to help this city win the prestigious award, and at the time, he didn’t even live here!

In addition to his time spent on the All-America City delegation, he was on the Mt. Wilson Trail Race committee, and Josh has a lot of experience working with the Community and Personnel Services Commission (though I think it was called the Parks and Rec. Commission most of the time that he was volunteering).  He worked on the City’s Youth Master Plan (so by electing Walsh and Moran, we have experience with age groups at each end of the spectrum, with two of the people who created the Master Plan for youth and seniors on the Council, which to me seems like a good thing).

What this election seems to be boiling down to, in my opinion, is planning.  The candidates above, whom I endorse, all seem to respect the existing planning processes, even when they disagree with individual aspects of those processes.  They trust the system, and are prepared to work both locally and regionally to make sure Sierra Madre residents and Sierra Madre as a City are engaged in the planning process, and that the rights of the people and the City are properly protected.

The candidates below (with the possible exception of Mr. Tice), all seem to have a mistrust of the planning process and/or the regional organizations that are part of or in charge of the processes.  While Pat Alcorn has told me that she believes we need to be involved, she also made it clear she is wary of the regional organizations, and both John Crawford and Don Watts have made it quite clear that they do not trust the processes and/or the organizations.  Both seem to favor an adversarial approach, rather than a collaborative one.  I think it’s in Sierra Madre’s best interests to collaborate, rather than butt heads.

For reasons I have begun spelling out in other editorials (see article immediately below this one), and will spell out in further detail in upcoming editorials, I cannot endorse Watts or Crawford. Suffice to say for now that I don’t think it’s in the town’s best interests to be represented by people who I believe have misled voters, and who only represent their supporters, ignoring the rest of the residents of the town. I also want to endorse people that more closely reflect my positions/opinions, and there are many things on which I disagree with Mr. Watts and Mr. Crawford.  Please be sure to check back in the next few days to see those editorials. 

Because I don’t think he takes his candidacy seriously, and wouldn’t know what to do if he won, I can’t endorse Bill Tice, though I thank him for running.  He does make a boring election a little more enjoyable.

I almost endorsed Pat Alcorn.  She has attended most of the Commission meetings in the last couple years, and currently serves on two ad hoc committees.  As such, she’s heard both sides of the arguments that have taken place at those meetings, and that awareness, in my opinion, would benefit the City.  Unfortunately, there are many issues on which we disagree.  I was prepared to overlook that based on my belief that Pat has the best interests of the City at heart.  Pat and I sat down and had an extensive talk about my concerns, and I came away from our meeting feeling very conflicted, and not sure how I was going to handle her candidacy, endorsement-wise. 

One of the issues we discussed was her desire to be independent of a slate, which she had expressed at the Kiwanis meeting.  I appreciated that, and it was another reason I was giving her serious consideration.  But after our meeting, I received an e-mail from Pat telling me that after consulting with her campaign manager, and after looking up the word “slate” in the dictionary, “in the strict sense of the word, I am on a “slate” or list of nominees running for an office.  I don’t want to mislead you, nor do I want to give the impression that I have separated myself from the other two.” She added that she was “endorsing Watts and Crawford because I want to see a majority remain on the council, and we have like beliefs and ideas.”  She then stated that though she had enjoyed our meeting, she believed “people would be misled by an endorsement since I do need a majority with MaryAnn to “stay the course”.”  And so, in accordance with Ms. Alcorn’s reasoning, because I want to change the majority on the council, and because we have like beliefs and ideas, I’m endorsing Mosca, Moran and Walsh.

One last thing.  Joe Mosca deserves to be Mayor.  He was bypassed the last two times when he should have been elevated to Mayor, and it’s time to right that wrong.  I urge Sierra Madre voters to elect Mosca, Moran and Walsh to City Council, so that we can have the best people that have stepped up to sit on the Council serving us.  In doing so, we’ll ensure that we have a Mayor that we can respect and be proud of.