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Here’s the story…

Three seats are open on the Fullerton City Council. The candidates are: Jane Rands, Bruce Whitaker, Charles Sergeant, Jesus Silva, Joe Imbriano, Susan Gapinski, Herbert Glazier, Joshua Ferguson, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Jonathan Mansoori, Larry Bennett, and Roberta Reid (who recently announced that she is not interested in running anymore, though her name already appears on the ballot).

What follows are my observations about the candidates. (For full disclosure, readers should be aware that I am romantically involved with candidate Jane Rands.) I hope I am being as fair as possible to everyone. There are video interviews on The Fullerton Observer website for most of the candidates, and the League of Women Voters forum is online here.

Jane Rands, Software Engineer

Jane Rands is a board member of the Friends of Coyote Hills, and has worked for many years to preserve the area as a park instead of allowing it to be developed as housing and retail by Chevron. She authored a better district elections map, but it was rejected by the city council.

She was a member of the city’s Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP) Advisory Committee, but opposed the ill-fated plan, working with Friends for a Livable Fullerton‘s Jane Reifer to organize residents and business owners against the plan’s fast-tracking of high density development in many parts of Fullerton. She has worked to oppose the overdevelopment of the city for a decade. She currently serves on and is a past chair of the Bicycle Users Subcommittee, where she has worked to ensure that the city holds true to a vision of increased mobility and safety for cycling on Fullerton streets. She opposed the closing of the Hunt Branch Library.

Her campaign does not accept donations from developers or other special interests, and almost entirely funded by contributions from individual Fullerton voters. Vote for Jane if you want sensible government that listens to residents, not developers.

Jane Rands is endorsed by Citizens for Responsible Development, The Fullerton Observer, and the Orange County League of Conservation Voters

Bruce Whitaker, incumbent City Council member.

Bruce Whitaker has been on the Fullerton City Council for six years. He has philosophically opposed mixing government with development. He voted in favor of Chevron’s plan to develop Coyote Hills. He has generally served as a fiscally conservative voice on the council, opposing cronyism and supporting greater oversight of the police department, earning him the ire of the police union, who have spent heavily to defeat him, unsuccessfully, in the past. His attempt to institute a system of greater transparency in negations with public employee unions was watered down by, among others, Jennifer Fitzgerald, rendering it largely ineffective. He supported keeping the Hunt Library open instead of leasing the property to a church. He joined the rest of the current council in voting for the terrible map attached to Measure ii.

His campaign is supported by local residents and business owners, with one $ 3,000.00 donation from “Roseville Fullerton Burton,” $ 1,000.00 from Townsend Public Affairs, as well as some real estate and development interests.

Endorsed by Citizens for Responsible Development and the OC Register

Jesus Silva, Jr. High School Math Teacher

Jesus Silva currently serves on Fullerton’s Parks and Recreation Commission. Husband of former Assembly member (and current candidate for the office) Sharon Quirk-Silva. He has spoken against developing Coyote Hills, and has cited public safety has his main priority in at least one candidate forum. He courted and received the support of Fullerton’s police union, making him an unlikely candidate for doing anything about police oversight. His campaign rhetoric and ballot statement are quite vague, making it difficult to know what he would do as a council member.

His campaign has been supported, with a few notable exceptions, largely by local donations by individuals.

Endorsed by Fullerton Observer and Fullerton’s police union.

 

Jennifer Fitzgerald, incumbent City Council member, Vice President of Curt Pringle & Associates, a public relations (lobbying) firm in Anaheim.

There are many reasons not to vote for her. Here are a few: She campaigned in 2012 on keeping libraries open, then voted for a budget that defunded the Hunt Branch, leading to the facility being leased to an adjacent church at a cut-rate. Although she is VP of a major lobbying firm in OC, she refused to release that firm’s client list, leaving her constituents in the dark about whether or not she is making decisions that might constitute a conflict of interest at any given time. (She was fined by the Fair Political Practices Commission last year for not being transparent about her employment). She vote to adopt the awful map in Measure ii, a map that diluted the district in which she herself resides form being an Asian Voting Age Population Majority one. She voted against meaningful police oversight. She claims that Fullerton has a balanced budget, but this claim seems to be based on the city selling off “surplus properties,” like the Hunt Library. She voted in favor of Chevron’s plans to develop Coyote Hills. She used an expensive, taxpayer-funded city video on her campaign website.

She has raised absurdly large amounts of money for her re-election campaign, from local donations and from outside interests like developers (including the Irvine Company) and their professional organizations, as well as local downtown bar owners, among others, fueling speculation that she intends to run for another office with the funds. There is no good reason to vote for her unless you want more development in town and like being kept in the dark when it comes to transparency in government.

Endorsed by the OC Register, the police and fire unions.

Jonathan Mansoori, Community Organizer.

Political (and Fullerton?) newcomer Jonathan Mansoori is known to voters primarily as “that nice young man.” He is part of an organization that is trying to catapult former Teach for America members into public office. His campaign rhetoric is long on lofty goals, but short on specific proposals.

He has stated that he supports preserving all of Coyote Hills as a park, and has not yet answered my question about how long he has actually lived in Fullerton (his current voting address goes back only to 2015).

His campaign is funded by oddly tiny amounts of money from people outside of Fullerton, but Jonathan Mansoori has raised tens of thousands of dollars from a PAC funded by charter school supporters like venture capitalist Arthur Rock, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Wal-Mart Board/family members Steuart Walton, and Carrie Penner, although he told the Fullerton Observer that he was not receiving “big money.” He may hold the record in this election for the most amount of money donated to his campaign from outside of the city. Vote for him is you want to wait for the other shoe to drop to find out why he is even running for Fullerton City Council.

Larry Bennett, Financial Planner (owner of an insurance agency.

Planning Commissioner Larry Bennett, a “financial planner” with his own insurance agency, is essentially an old guard candidate endorsed by many of the same people who tried to keep Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley in office four years ago. Voters can decide for themselves whether or not his management of the disastrously ineffective Anti-Recall campaign of 2012 lends credibility to his administrative abilities. He pledges to fix Fullerton’s roads and sidewalks and to make pensions sustainable, but is endorsed by the same recalled Council members who helped to cause these same problems. He supported developing Coyote Hills. Vote for him if you like Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has contributed thousands to his campaign, and more development, because that’s what Jennifer Fitzgerald wants too.

His campaign is funded by many of the same locals who tried to keep Bankhead/McKinley/Jones in office four years ago, as well as by property management, automobile dealer, and developer interests.

Endorsed by the police and fire unions

Joe Imbriano, Business owner (insurance agent)
Proudly announces at council meetings that he is the site administrator of the Fullerton Informer blog, where, among other stories, readers will find arguments that the moon landings were faked, the drought is a result of geo-engineering (chemtrails!), Apple is intentionally making children sterile, and the earth is flat (look for it, it’s there). His primary activism has been the area of opposing wireless devices in schools for fear of children being exposed to unhealthy doses of radiation. He opposes high density development, going so far as to propose a moratorium on all new developments, but has spread misinformation about the Polly’s Pies shopping center, falsely claiming that it could slated for “Section 8” housing.

Joe Imbriano’s campaign is funded by local individuals, including himself. Vote for him if you want a reduction in high density development and wish to enter into a miasma of ridiculous off-the-shelf conspiracy theory not seen in OC since the days of Steve Rocco on the Orange School Board.

Susan Gapinski, Iron Worker

Susan Gapinksi promises to fix the roads, as do most candidates, and to oppose high density development, and is for “for property owners’ rights, and less government interference for business owners.”

Susan Gapinski’s campaign is funded by local residents, and $ 2,000.00 from Ed Royce, and unions.

Endorsed by the OC Register and the LA/OC Building and Construction Trades Council

Joshua Ferguson, Camera Store Clerk.

Joshua Ferguson states that the “status quo hates him,” and he is probably right, if they have paid him much attention. Too bad if they haven’t. He’s emerged as an intelligent voice on many issues. He opposes “rubber stamp(ing)” high density housing, wants to reform public employee pensions, fix the roads, and establish more oversight of the Fullerton Police Department.

Joshua Ferguson has not raised or spent enough money to file campaign reports.

 

Charles Sargeant, lists his background as a business owner and school district safety officer. (I can’t find a website for him.)

Charles Sargeant wants to “speed up street improvements/water lines and other infrastructural work, assign more officers to police the bars, and make it easier to start new small businesses in town.

Charles Sargeant has not raised or spent enough money to file campaign reports.

Herbert Glazier is reportedly a retired builder who ran for office in Easthampton, MA (?) in 2013. Not sure why he is running for office here now, but his whole campaign seems to consist of a handmade sign taped to his car window.

Herbert Glazier has not raised or spent enough money to file campaign reports.

Roberta Reid indicated at a recent meeting of the Fullerton City Council that she is not running anymore, and was surprised to learn that her name would still appear on the ballot. Enough said.

Insurance salesmen like blue shirts…

On September 29, 2016 the League of Women Voters of North Orange County hosted a forum for candidates running for Fullerton City Council in November. Ten of the twelve candidates running for the three open seats on the council participated, including two incumbents. Candidates all responded to the same questions submitted by audience members, but asked by a LWV moderator. Candidates were given two minutes each for an opening statement and one minute for a closing statement. The video is just over two hours in length, and is posted to the Fullerton Rag’s YouTube channel.

The LWV requests that the video not be edited for political purposes. For this reason, any commentary I make on the forum will be made by referencing time stamps in the complete video. There were some problems with the microphones at times during the proceedings, leading to intermittent dropped amplification and candidates passing microphones down the long table.

Participating candidates were, in order of randomly drawn speaking order: Joshua Ferguson, Jennifer Fitzgerald (incumbent), Larry Bennett, Joe Imbriano, Jesus Silva, Jane Rands, Charles Sargeant, Jonathan Mansoori, Bruce Whitaker (incumbent), and Susan Gapinski. The forum was quite well attended, with most of the seats in the Fullerton Public Library’s Community Room filled by interested voters.

Questions asked of the candidates included…

How would they make more affordable housing available?

What was their position on the proposed development of Coyote Hills?

Did they think that the District Elections map proposed by the city council diluted the votes of downtown residents?

Would they allow marijuana dispensaries in Fullerton?

What would they do about unsustainable public pension obligations?

What would be their two top priorities if elected?

What is your position on the proposed closure of Nutwood Ave. for the College Town specific plan?

What is your position on the closure of the Hunt Branch Library?

Do you support the plan for renovating Hillcrest Park?

This video was recorded by City of Fullerton staff, and was downloaded from the City of Fullerton’s website. It can also be viewed there at this link:

http://fullerton.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=801

Sam Han

Grace Ministries Pastor and Republican State Senator District Director Sam Han, going to bat for the map the bar owners want.

Matthew Leslie
“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.

GMI Exterior

Grace Ministries…why do it’s 5,000 members care about what Fullerton’s bar owners want?

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…”

And finally…

“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.

Slidebar-Alley

Outside the Slidebar: What Would Jesus Drink?

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.

Sam Han Collage.jpg

Sam Han didn’t mention his day job…

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).

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