Sunday, March 13, 2016

Whittier Votes April 12th!

Souce: City of Whittier website

I'm going to take a moment to Whittier out here.  Why?  Because I live in Whittier, California and local elections are really important.  They also usually have abysmally low voter turnout and low levels of mainstream media coverage.  Local governments have tremendous control over land use, transportation, public safety, parks and more, meaning they have tremendous control over, to give a couple of examples, whether there will be enough affordable housing and enough opportunities to get around without driving.  If you live in Los Angeles County, but not in Whittier, keep in mind that several other LA County cities are holding elections on April 12th as well.

First thing's first.  Are you registered to vote?  If not, stop reading this and follow this link!  The deadline to register for an election in California is 15 days before the election according to the Secretary of State's website.  Even if you register too late for this election, there will be at least two more elections this year in California: the Presidential Primary Election on June 7th and the Presidential Election on November 8th.  Besides electing the President, these elections also cover other extremely important subject matter like ballot initiatives and who our federal and state legislators should be.

Whittier will be deciding on its first-ever citywide elected Mayor and a candidate to represent District 1.  This is the first election under the new council district system that Whittier voters approved in another obscure local election in June 2014.

Whittier Mayor
For mayor I like Owen Newcomer.  But Joe Vinatieri and Nick Donovan are also in the running.  Lisa Lopez is on the ballot but has no website that I have been able to find.  Why Newcomer?  He has the most experience on the Council, he has a website with some policy specifics and I agree with his focus on increasing social service spending.  He is more progressive than Vinatieri.  I have also listened to him on the council and I trust his judgment for the most part.  Donovan seems to have made a name for himself leading the opposition to the Whittier Hills Oil Project, a position I agree with, but is probably too much in the NIMBY camp for my taste (especially regarding his statements on the Nelles project).  I want a mayor who understands the need for more housing and more affordable housing in Whittier.

Councilmember - District 1
There are three people on the ballot.  Let's take a look:

David Gonzalez
Pros: He actually has a campaign website, indicating that he has a basic level of competence as a candidate.  The website provides some biographical information.
Cons: The issues section of his website provides virtually no specific information.  How am I supposed to decide if I want to vote for you if you won't even tell me specifically what you would do if elected?

Robert Arthur Canales
Pros: He has a campaign Facebook page which is gives you some biographical information and specific policy proposals such as providing housing for veterans and moving local elections to November when there will be more turnout, ideas I agree with.
Cons: Not having an organized campaign website shows poor judgment.  Canales is missing an easy way to spread his message and raise funds to support his campaign.

Josué Alvarado
Pros: He has an organized campaign website with some policy specifics.  Yay!  I agree with many of those policy specifics, such as District 1 needing more affordable housing and more parks.
Cons: Although he provides some specifics, it's still more like less vague than actually specific.  He doesn't touch on many of the major issues that have faced the City recently, from the oil project, to Nelles, to the trash contract.

I'm not ready to endorse in District 1.  I think all of the candidates need to step up their game and lay out specific plans on their websites for how they would deal with the City's problems.  But make no mistake.  I will be one of a handful of people who votes in this election, and I will reward the candidate who has the guts and the brains to lay out the most specific, well-reasoned plans for improving the City.  District 1 deserves no less.

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