Early Primary Voting ballots will be mailed to voters at the end of July, 2014 and the primary voting locations will be open on August 29, 2014. Candidate season reaches a fevered pitch in July. I bet you have already received campaign mailings on behalf of either congressional, state or local candidates.
Recent petition signature verification by the courts shines a light on just how ill informed inexperienced candidates can be. It is a tried and true political tactic to challenge signatures. Sometimes it’s easier to try to knock a candidate out of the running by challenging signatures than running against him or her. Former Councilmember and Vice Mayor Tom Eggleston was a master of this particular art.
Petition signature gathering ranks as an elementary task for a city council candidate. He or she should at the very least, know the district boundaries of the council district they wish to represent. I am always surprised by candidates who get signatures from people who have a Glendale mailing address even though they live in another city. Simply put, if a candidate can’t be bothered to do his or her homework to recognize district boundaries and instead fills his or her petition sheets with signatures from folks with just a Glendale mailing address he or she doesn’t deserve a spot on the ballot. They will be pummeled by those candidates supported by the fire union, who provide their chosen candidates with complete walking lists of registered voters on each street within the district being covered. It is difficult enough for an experienced candidate to run against a fire union candidate. It is a daunting and unpleasant task for an inexperienced candidate.
Another very rudimentary act for the candidate is to check one’s petition signatures against registered voter lists. Inexperienced candidates will accept all signatures not bothering to verify that the signator is a registered voter in Glendale. I suppose they really think no one will check. Do they really think that a massive show of numbers will dazzle enough to overlook the legal validity of signatures?
This year the candidate crop in Glendale is vast. There are a few diamonds-in-the-rough among them and it is revealing to see that there are so many of them ready, willing and eager to change the current culture and vision. However, it is disappointing to see so many that are downright ill informed or completely uninformed about the real issues facing Glendale.
It is no secret that those running are quietly and surreptitiously vetted by City Hall. After all, a new crop of councilmembers can change the city hall equation in an instant. A candidate may be identified by someone in City Hall as sympathetic to the current City Hall agenda. That candidate will receive assistance in subtle, barely discernible ways. A candidate who is not in favor at City Hall will find that the city will keep a very close eye on his/her campaign and will be quick to put up road blocks…also subtle and barely discernible. Having run in 4 Glendale elections I have been a recipient of both kinds of treatment.
Then there’s the tremendous assistance that the Glendale Fire Union will provide to their identified candidates. Now, remember, that pesky federal Hatch Act. Local employees may not be involved in their community’s election, in any way, shape or form. The fire unions have developed a neat “work around.” Fire fighters from other Valley cities will contribute to the candidate’s campaign. Fire fighters from other Valley cities will walk for the candidate and work the polls on election day. Fire fighters from other Valley cities will put up the candidate’s campaign signs. Fire fighters from other Valley cities will form Political Action Committees, registered with the city, and then do “independent mailings” or “independent campaign signs” in support of their candidate. It’s a quid pro quo relationship. Next election cycle you will find Glendale fire fighters doing the same for their brothers in Peoria, Gilbert or Phoenix.
Be wary. The Glendale Fire Union’s agenda is just that…their agenda. Their agenda is to protect what they have in wages, benefits and work schedules and to get more. While that agenda is great for them and while they may tell you it is great for you — it may not be a great agenda for Glendale taxpayers…just remember that’s you and me. One more union thought. Always use this as a voter guide. Does my company give me the same level of benefits enjoyed by union fire fighters? At this time with the nation’s economy still struggling, probably not.
You may find it helpful to realize most voters don’t know the local issues in depth. You are not alone. So it is not surprising that the candidates often don’t know either. Look for candidates who ask questions and offer solutions. They may not have the benefit of insider city hall knowledge but at least they are willing to take their time to do their homework and to learn… and then to develop a position on an issue. Some candidates do nothing more than pander to the voter expressing a popular position assuming that it will produce votes.
One further caveat, reject any city council candidate who promises to “fix” local education. The Glendale city council has no authority over the curriculum, teachers or administrators of the myriad of school districts in Glendale. A councilmember may be asked, from time to time, to do something about traffic or parking adjacent to individual schools. That councilmember may or may not, be able to assist in such a circumstance. That is the sum total of city council involvement in local school issues.
Look for candidates who dress appropriately as a sign of respect for the office they seek. Look for candidates who have developed roots in Glendale. Look for candidates who can not only articulate their positions on issues but also put their positions out there for you to weigh. Having visited all the candidates who have websites I am surprised that quite a few of them do not use this venue to tell you, the voter, where they stand on a particular issue. They’ll put up their bios, ask for a donation or campaign help or provide a “Contact” link but they fail to tell you what their position is, for example, on the sales tax sunset issue, Glendale’s debt burden or the casino issue – three hot topics in Glendale right now.
I would suggest calling the candidate directly. Now is not the time to be shy. All of them should be pleased to have a conversation with you and to be given the opportunity to express their views. Please don’t feel as if you are intruding. Candidates welcome every opportunity to make connections to voters.
During the month of July as I discuss each candidate I will post publicly available phone numbers, websites and contact information. Use this information. Please don’t feel as if you are intruding. Candidates welcome every opportunity to make connections to voters. After all, it is candidate season…
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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