Small town, big money politics

Special interest groups raise money and establish a PAC to endorse candidates, among other things. During an election, a PAC often conducts interviews and then chooses a candidate(s) to endorse.

PAC money is often put towards influencing the outcome of an election, in order to have candidates on City Council that best represent their interests. Feels like Washington style politics in our small Laguna Beach town to me.

This year in Laguna, of the three organizations that have openly offered endorsements (Village Laguna, Liberate Laguna, and the Laguna Beach Police Employees Association – LBPEA), only LBPEA conducted personal interviews equally with all City Council candidates.

Political party endorsements for a non-partisan office like City Council also trouble me. Why would a political entity seek to influence the voice and narrative on a local level?

The Laguna Beach Democratic Club endorsed three candidates. The Democratic Party of Orange County endorsed two candidates.

The Republic Party has not endorsed nor are they funding any candidate for City Council, a non-partisan elected position, to my knowledge.

Will the residents of Laguna Beach allow a PAC or political party to influence our city government or will our intelligent, self-driven voters remain neutral and independent, including considering “outside” candidates?

Resident voters will receive the government we elect and have the opportunity this election to vote in a new, independent, “outside” leadership.

A PAC does not require nor need to consent of a candidate it is endorsing to spend tens of thousands of dollars in advertisements on their behalf that fill our mailboxes with expensive, glossy mailers that ultimately benefit the PAC and its endorsed candidates.

Make no mistake, PACs are formed with political motives (hence the name “Political Action Committee”), and do give certain candidates an edge over others with their endorsements. PACs will often (though not always) ask a candidate, after their interview, if the candidate will accept their endorsement if offered. PACs are unlikely to throw good money at a bad investment.

Independent grassroots candidates are strapped by an individual donor campaign maximum amount set at $360. Candidates are told it takes money to win elections and to buy advertising but it is a challenge to raise sufficient funds to pay the tens of thousands needed to put together a large advertising campaign.

Local PAC Liberate Laguna sent a questionnaire to candidates and met with some for an interview. After meeting, the PAC members decided which candidate(s) would best serve their political interests, Kempf and Blake.

Village Laguna (VL) also met with candidates. VL then held a vote of their members to decide which candidate(s) to endorse, requiring a 2/3 vote. Iseman and Christoph were selected to best serve to fulfill the goals and further advance the objectives of VL.

Kempf is a three-term Planning Commissioner, elected by City Council and thus is an “insider” candidate, I believe, that is backed by the establishment and status quo.

Blake is an “outsider” maverick candidate who admitted he has not attended a City Council meeting in the past year, nor has he written a letter to the editor before deciding to run for City Council.

Residents have the opportunity to take money out of politics in our city. We have three City Council seats open to elect new leadership.

The candidates below are not endorsed by Liberate Laguna, Village Laguna, LBPEA or any political party, which I believe gives them a benefit because they are not receiving (wanted or unwanted) advertising support from special interest groups:

Lorene Laguna

Paul Merritt

Allison Mathews

I intend to be the voice of the underserved, under-represented, individual, independent resident of our community. Government was meant to be of the people, for the people and by the people to serve the people equally without special privilege or favor.

Candidates Bates and Zur Schmiede announced their resignation, as reported in Stu News. Dubin is a write-in candidate and Connelly has been on an extended vacation during this campaign.

Dedicated candidates like myself have been hard at work for you, to serve residents first, not political noise.

I suggest voters keep money out of local city politics and vote without influence.

I encourage residents to vote to elect new leadership…outsiders in, insiders out!

Lorene Laguna
Laguna Beach