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.
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.
Strap in and get ready for a rough ride. The first three folks to actually pull papers as candidates for Tustin City Council are incumbent, John Nielsen, “Dr.” Allan Bernstein and Tustin Planning Commissioner, Chuck Puckett. Bernstein and Puckett pulled papers the same day. I have to wonder if they held hands while walking into the City Clerk’s office. To no one’s surprise, John Nielsen pulled his papers a few days later.
This, of course, led us to wonder when Puckett would resign his seat on the planning commission. He did not keep us in suspense as he announced his candidacy at the planning commission meeting, saying that he had pulled papers and would resign next week when he files his papers. He went on to say that he has served on the planning commission for over twelve years during two different periods. We also know that Puckett is a former city councilman and mayor who resigned amid scandal.
As they were closing the meeting in memory of the Aurora, Colorado victims, Chuck mentioned he had come from Aurora 37 years ago. He said the site of the shootings, although not built up when he lived there, was only a mile from where they lived. So, Chuck and I have something in common as I come from Denver, Colorado which right next door to Aurora.
Bernstein, although out and about with his cronies, has not had a good photo taken of him yet. So, I can’t supply you with the wanted poster. However, he sent an email out along with a flyer for his first fundraiser at the Wilcox Manor. Again, no photo but he does state that he has been in Tustin for 36 years and is a “physician”. Hmm, the only Doctor Allan Bernstein we have in Tustin is a Podiatrist working out of a 1st. Street office. A podiatrist is about as much of a physician as a chiropractor. If you don’t believe me, believe the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons who are fighting to have the change made official in regard to Medicaid. I guess you can call yourself anything you want when running for office.
Others running? We know from conversations that David Waldram will be running. He has established a campaign account and a website. He just needs to get down there and pull papers. Incumbent Councilmember, Deborah Gavello is still keeping it close whether she will run for another term. I am sure she is looking at the field to see who else, if anyone, would continue the reign of terror on the dais. We also have heard some other names that may be running but we will wait until they pull papers. They have promised me first dibs on the announcement. We’ll hold them to it and keep you informed as we get more information.