As the kids head back to school (I can’t get that Staples jingle out of my head) and the leaves begin to fall here in Tustin, campaign season is already in full swing. Most of the candidates have had a fundraiser or two in the past few weeks and more are heading your way.
New candidate, “Dr.” Allan Bernstein, has had two fundraisers that we know of, one at the Wilcox Manor and the other at that bastion of Republicanism in Old Town, Quinn’s Old Town Grill. And, just remember, you may be able to buy the “Best of” designation from the Orange County Register (who’s the judge?) but you can’t from the OC Weekly where the people speak. And, as far as I know, Quinn’s hasn’t even made the finals at the OCW in any year since they have been open. We were invited to the party but, somehow, I doubt we would have gotten in the door.
Bernstein is sort of an enigma around town. He first appeared at the Tustin Chili Cookoff sporting a judges badge and a pin that looked a lot like the City Seal of Tustin with the word, “candidate” underneath. He has also sent out campaign material with a photo of him on the dais of the Tustin council chambers with the Tustin City Seal above his head. Both of these are campaign violations but no one seems to be too concerned as we have notified the OC District Attorney’s Office. Maybe a call to the FPPC? Bernstein had $2700 in his campaign account as of June 30,2012
David Waldram held a kickoff event at his home a few weeks ago, complete with bounce house for the kids. Waldram had a nice turnout for his inaugural event with folks stopping by for hot dogs and lemonade. David spoke about his idea of service of as councilman, promising true fiscal responsibility and civility on the dais. He is also an outspoken opponent of the TUSD lawsuits and has publicly stated he will do all he can to settle the issues. As TUSD School Board President, Jonathan Ablelove appears to be a supporter, I would say that will be doable, should David win a seat. David recently told me that his website is now fully functional. You can see Waldram and his platform here. Waldram had less than a thousand dollars in his campaign account as of June 30, 2012.
Last week, Tracy Worley-Hagen held a joint fundraiser with David Waldram at the Loveland Residence and they confirmed they will run as a “team” for two of the three open seats. Attending the fundraiser was school board president Jonathan Ablelove and Tustin City Councilmember Beckie Gomez. The mixer allowed the two to discuss their concerns about the current state of the city and its finances.
Tracy is a former mayor and councilmember of Tustin, holding office from 1994-2006. She was elected Mayor and Mayor pro tem by her peers 4 times during her tenure. During that time, she also served on the boards of OCFA, the Transportation Corridor Agency and the Sanitation District. She is also active in the community as a member of the Assistance League, The AAUW and the Tustin Ranch Homeowners Association III President.She is also active with the schools and, like Waldram, is appalled at the city’s poor relationship with the school district that has allowed millions of dollars to be wasted over a pig fight. Several school board members have endorsed her candidacy.
Tracy’s website shows an extensive list of endorsements from all facets of our community. Her website, written more in a blog fashion (I like), has her campaign issues and her background as well. Worley-Hagen had just over $13,000 during the latest reporting period.
David Waldram and Tracy Worley-Hagen will be holding another fundraiser at the Hewes House on September 14, 2012 from 5-7:30 pm.
Chuck Puckett is another retread from the Tustin City Council. He was Mayor in 1991 and, until recently, was chair of the planning commission.
Puckett is a long time Amante crony and appears to be interested in keeping a business friendly climate as a priority. He also takes a more moderate view of the TUSD lawsuits saying that he will “strive to obtain a better relationship” with the school district. He does not give any indication that he would work to resolve the lawsuits. Like Allan Bernstein, Chuck also held a fundraiser at the Wilcox Manor. Don’t these conservatives just love Old Town?
I met Chuck at a recent event at the Hewes House where he spent a few minutes telling me I had him all wrong. He has promised me an interview and we’ll publish that down the road. Chuck’s website could use some updating in some areas and is a bit difficult to navigate. But, he has everything up there to give you the big picture. I would look at his endorsement page which, aside from the usual Republican suspects, includes the Marconi Automotive Museum. Now, didn’t Chuck vote on a few things for them as Planning Commissioner? Oh, and lookie, there’s Steve and Pam Godderham, too. In the latest reporting cycle, Chuck reported just under $4,000 in the bank.
The final candidate for Mayor, uh, I mean, city council, is none other than John Nielsen. Right after being elected mayor for this year, John foretold his re-election as he said he would be mayor again next year. Well, maybe. He has a few hurdles to jump. For example, his website is woefully out of date. He boasts a slew of endorsements, many from businesses and conservative Republican associations, but the page has not been updated since 2010. His positions have also not been updated, which is why he apparently has not said anything about the lawsuits. He did, however, discuss them with me in an interview earlier this year. At that time, he defended everything the city council had done so far in regard to the school district.
John may have too many irons in the fire, including a divorce he filed for in April of this year. Yet, he has had photo ops with Erin Nielsen, his wife, since then. It’s interesting to note that no paperwork beyond the initial filing has been completed. He may have decided to wait until after the election to make it known or (we hope) Erin and he have reconciled.
In any case, John has plenty of cash, which may explain why he has not had a fundraiser yet. In his most recent filing, he reported having over $20,000 to ensure his re-election to the city council. It also shows heavy funding from businesses throughout Tustin and Orange County. Assuming voters are willing to overlook his family issues, he shouldn’t have any trouble defending his spot on the council.
So, that’s the latest snapshot of our five candidates for Tustin City Council. As things progress, we will keep you updated. By the way, don’t look for campaign filings on the city’s transparency page of their website. They have not been posted even though everyone turned theirs in by August 1st. Go figure.
(Updated 08/20/12 9:00 pm) The Tustin City Council race is off to a good start. Five candidates have filed for three seats. Councilmember Jerry Amante is termed out and Councilmember Deborah Gavello has chosen not to run for a second term. Mayor John Nielsen is running for a second term, probably so he can fulfill his latest campaign promise. The California Secretary of State, Deborah Bowen, has made the random draw of the alphabet that determines where candidates names will be on the ballot. The random alphabet draw was passed by the legislature in 1975 due to the bias caused by alphabetical and incumbent-first ballots.
In ballot order, the candidates running for Tustin City Council are:
- David Waldram
- Tracy Worley Hagen
- Allan Bernstein
- Chuck Puckett
- John Nielsen
As we said, John Nielsen is the only incumbent running and has a built-in lead by his incumbency that should make up for his last-place placement on the ballot. He has also, occasionally, stood up to Amante and voted his conscience. While those are rare times, we hope that if he is re-elected, Amante’s influence will wane (we can always hope). He is well endorsed by a broad spectrum of the community. John lists as his priorities, public safety, taxes, and traffic. He doesn’t appear to think of transparency in government as a priority. But that is understandable, given his track record.
Chuck Puckettis an alumni of the Tustin City Council and has previously served as mayor. During the elections of 1994, Puckett was mired
in a scandal involving city credit cards and lingerie shows. As far as we can see, there was little truth to any of it but, it made for a good story around the campfire. It is probable there was enough credibility in the story at the time to cause him to lose the election. Chuck appears to be an affable guy who some believe will speak his own mind when necessary. In any case, he has a leg up as a former councilmember and mayor. He has remained active in the community and has held positions on the Tustin Community Foundation Board and recently as the Chairman of the Tustin Planning Commission. Unlike Nielsen, Chuck lists, among other things, transparency in government as a priority saying, “Our city government and financial decisions must be transparent.” That’s a plus for us.
Allan Bernstein, well what can you say about Allan? Anyone? Anyone at all? He has no political experience. He has no community involvement that we have seen other than when he appeared as a judge for the Annual Chili Cookoff alongside… can you guess? Jerry Amante. In fact, Allan is a good friend of Jerry’s apparently, and lives in his neighborhood. But, until Hizzoner began showing him around political circles, few had heard of him. His campaign manager has had the good sense to host fundraisers for Allan at both the Wilcox House and that bastion of republicanism in Old Town, Quinn’s Old Town Grill. Bernstein bills himself as a “physician” as he is a podiatrist. My chiropractor also calls herself a physician.
It is Bernstein’s initial attempts to deceive the public as to his community service that has us most concerned. At the chili cookoff, he was reported to be wearing a pin with the Tustin City Seal and the word, “Candidate” on it. If the average citizen saw this, they might think Bernstein already sits on the council or works in some capacity for the city. Add to this Bernstein’s Facebook profile picture (also shown above) that shows him on the dais in the Tustin City Council Chambers, sitting at a council seat with the Tustin City Seal above his head. Again, he deceives anyone looking at his page (it is open to the public, by the way) into thinking that he is a sitting councilmember already. If this is the type of tactics Amante has endorsed for Bernstein, he needs to take another look at campaign laws. Bernstein has a web address reserved but, alas, no website as of yet. The big question: Will Jerry push his beloved dog aside and let Allan ride with him in the Tiller Days parade?
Like John Nielsen, candidate David Waldram is an Eagle Scout and very proud of his work with the Boy Scouts. He previously ran for city council in 2010 and was narrowly defeated by Beckie Gomez. David recently held his kickoff fundraiser at his home with a BBQ and bouncehouse for the kids. He is a sometimes teacher at Tustin High School and a small business owner. Waldram is also a lifelong resident of Tustin having attended local schools and Chapman University. Although he has a website, it does not appear to be fully functional yet. The best bet for information is his Facebook page. Waldram and Tracy Hagen are having a fundraiser on August 30th at the Loveland residence. More information is available on his Facebook page.
The final candidate is veteran councilmember, Tracy Worley Hagen whom we recently wrote about. Tracy won a seat on the council in a contentious race in 1994. She has been Mayor of Tustin 4 times. We would like to say she is coming back into politics but it seems she has never really left. She was at the forefront of an effort to bring civility back to the dais when a hit piece on David Waldram was discussed at a city council meeting. Along with her 12 previous years on the council, Tracy has held seats on the boards of OCFA, Transportation Corridor Agencies, and the OC Sanitation District. Her community service includes, past-president of the Foothill Boys Volleyball Team Boosters and she sits as current president for the Tustin Ranch Homeowners Association III. Tracy is also an active member of the Assistance League of Tustin.
Tracy was instrumental in securing the old Tustin Marine Corp Air Station, when it closed, in a no cost transfer of the base to the city. After a slow start in development (through no one’s fault except the economy), the area promises to breath new life into our town. Tracy has both a website (of the blog sort which we like) and a Facebook page that has plenty of information on her background. Hopefully, she will get her platform up somewhere soon. We do know, in casual conversations with her, she puts transparency of government and civility to citizens and each other on the dais as high priorities along with fiscal prudence and a government that serves the people.
As we have said, this is shaping up to be one heck of a race. All odds are even at the starting gate. As they round the first turn, we will be there to let you know how things are going.
No sooner than my post went out this morning on Deborah Gavello, than I got an interesting text message saying, “Meet me at City Hall at 3 pm”.
Councilwoman Gavello, as you know, issued a press release last night saying that she would not run for a second term. Citing family issues and the toxic atmosphere created by the Gang of Three, Gavello chose sanity over politics. We can’t blame her as the clowns on the right of the dais have made it almost impossible for political discourse to take place, let alone common civility.
Last week I hinted that I had met with another possible candidate and I was really hoping she would run for office – again. Armed with support from a few of my readers, I asked her to consider running and she said that she would think about it. A few days ago, I got a disappointing email saying, after much soul searching, she wouldn’t be running.
Then, Deborah sent out her press release. And, this morning, I got a the text message.
So, I pulled up to Tustin City Hall where a small cadre of supporters and friends were gathered around former Mayor, Tracy Worley-Hagen, who had just pulled her papers from the City Clerk’s Office. Of course, I smelled photo op and walked right up to the crowd. And, quite a crowd it was. Tracy told me that, when she found out that Gavello had declined to run another term, she could not let the city council go to the wolves. So, after another (short) soul search, she decided to come out of retirement and put her hat in the ring.
Tracy said that it was sad that politics in our town had come to the bullying and corruption that it has under the eye of former Mayor and councilmember, Jerry Amante. Indeed, Amante has made his mark more for his acerbic style on the dais than the fiscal conservatism he espouses. Costing the taxpayers more than $2 million dollars in legal fees over the past two years was not acting in the best interest of the community at large, she said.
If those in attendance is any indicator, Tracy is off to a great start. Among others, there to sign her petition to run was Councilmember Gavello, former Councilmember Tony Kawashima, the first
woman Mayor of Tustin, Ursula Kennedy, TUSD President Jonathan Ablelove, and former Planning Commisioner Nathan Menard. Joining Hagen was David Waldram who is also a candidate (and, we hope running mate, so to speak) for City Council. Photos were taken after the signing and we will post a few after we get them from Tony.
So, this horse race is shaping up quickly. We have a few fast and furious months ahead of us. Hagen starts the season with over $13,000 in the bank to kick off her campaign. She is an experienced and savvy campaigner who know her way around a finance statement. So, this should be a pretty good show. I invite you to sit back and watch the fireworks. Better yet, pick a candidate (I know a couple) and help them get elected.
A few readers have asked me to look into other races besides the city council. So, when I started looking around, I found a few familiar faces in the crowd. We have only a few months before elections in November and I will be posting information on candidates for the local races. I’ll let you make up your own mind on Obama-Romney. You wouldn’t like my choice, anyway (neither of them).
We’ll start with an update on the city council race. As I reported earlier, Mayor John Nielsen, former Mayor Chuck Puckett and newcomer, Allan Bernstein have all pulled papers. As of yesterday, David Waldram also pulled papers. None have filed as of yet.
Waldram is kicking off his campaign this weekend with an open house and BBQ at his residence from 6-9 pm on August 3rd. The event will be held at 190 Orangewood Ln., Tustin, CA. Waldram has a one-page website that you can see here. He actually has quite a bit more on his website from his previous run for the dais. The information is a bit dated but you can access it here. Waldram should really get going on updating the website. The front page message will not hold electors’ attention for long.
We understand that Allan “Doc” Bernstein also held a fundraiser at the Wilcox Manor. He listed several former mayors that would join him and his guests for a sit down dinner and entertainment. Hope they had a good time. Bernstein does not have a website up yet but he apparently has pulled a domain name. So, expect something soon.
We are still hoping a few others will join this horse race and give Jerry’s Kids a run for their money.
Tustin City Council
Allan “Doc” Bernstein – Podiatrist (Chiropodist for the Gooderhams)
John Nielsen – Tustin Mayor website
Chuck Puckett – Planning Commissioner website
David Waldram – Small Business Owner website
Tustin Unified School District
James H. Laird – Incumbent
Francine Pace Scinto – Incumbent
Elias Teferi – Independent Educational Consultant
Tammie Bullard – Incumbent
East Orange County Water District
Douglas M. Chapman – Incumbent
Doug Davert – Lawyer
Bill Vanderwerff – Incumbent
That’s it for now. We are in the process of putting the community college district information together and will post it next time. If you are aware of any other races we should be tracking (and, of course, commenting on) let us know.