“My name is Sam Han, I’m a resident of the City of Fullerton. I’m also here representing Grace Ministries…,” said Samuel “Sam” Han to the Fullerton City Council on the evening of May 17, speaking during a public hearing about which district elections map to send to voters in November. After noting his service as a former Planning Commissioner, he offered a series of observations about the Korean-American community in Fullerton before stating “we don’t believe that the downtown area should just be monopolized by one member.” He continued, eventually offering support for the efforts of Downtown Fullerton’s bar owners to have all five proposed voting districts converge at the intersections of Harbor Blvd. and Chapman or Harbor and Commonwealth. This opinion, supporting the bar owners’ Map # 8, was offered “on behalf of the five thousand members of our church,” a sizable, primarily Korean-American church located on Commonwealth and Brookhurst, where Mr. Han serves as an Associate Pastor.
I’ve transcribed some of Mr. Han’s comments below so readers can try to follow the slender, meandering thread of reasoning he followed to reach his conclusion that a megachurch should take a position on a city’s district elections map, and, in particular, make a specific recommendation to have the district that would contain their church rub up against alcohol-saturated Downtown Fullerton.*
‘…over the years as we’ve worked together with the city council we’ve come to find that you have been receptive, at least to our voice, and some of the needs we have in our community. I will say that the district, unfortunately, creates a situation where you have one city council member who may be more interested in the voices of their particular constituency as opposed to the rest of the city. Koreans don’t just live in one district, we live in multiple districts throughout the city, and we would hope that rest of the members of the city council, even if we’re not a majority in your district, that you would still be attentive to our voices as well. With that being said, as a former planning commissioner myself, I’ve worked though many decisions on the dias, working with business owners downtown…”
“I feel the map 8 would actually do a better job at representing a lot of our voices because the downtown area should be considered by all the members.”
We heard the same counterintuitive approach voiced by council candidate Larry Bennett, who replaced Mr. Han in 2014 on Fullerton’s Planning Commission as Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald’s appointee. It didn’t sound any more convincing coming from Mr. Bennett, which is perhaps why Mr. Han took such a long and circuitous path to try to sound persuasive. He didn’t.
Readers will rightly wonder why two successive Planning Commissioners, both appointed by Ms. Fitzgerald, would rush to support a badly drawn map offered by, of all people, Jeremy Popoff, drummer for the band Lit, and owner of Downtown Fullerton’s Slidebar. The Slidebar is a popular place, but I’m guessing that on any given night it is probably not much populated by very many of the “five thousand” members of the Grace Ministries congregation.
To answer the question of why a megachurch whose congregants certainly don’t all live in Fullerton would send a representative to speak on behalf of a bar owners’ proposed map of the city’s possible election districts, we might refer to Mr. Han’s other gig as District Representative for 68th District Sate Senator Donald P. Wagner, a Republican.
As noted in our post about Larry Bennett’s support for this ridiculous map, three of Map # 8’s five districts have Republican majorities, leaving only two districts with Democratic Party registrant majorities. Perhaps it just sounded better to have bar owners argue that everyone should “touch” a piece of the action downtown and have a pastor from a megachurch agree with them than it did to have two Republicans appointed by Jennifer Fitzgerald argue for a map that would likely preserve that party’s majority on the Fullerton City Council.
*(Maps #2B and Map # 11 both group GMI with a west-side district that doesn’t reach downtown; Map #10 includes GMI with all of the downtown).