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Campaign 2012 - Part 6 (Final Thoughts)

Here are some final thoughts about the election

About 6 months ago I asked my wife what she thought about me running for a third time - her face went blank. We fought two losing campaigns, spent more than $15,000 of our own money, and dedicated a significant portion of time and energy. And did I mention that we lost twice! So, she wasn’t impressed with the thought of a third campaign and we finally agreed that win or lose this would be the final campaign. Hence, I am no longer a candidate for City Council (unless I want to be a candidate for the “dog house”) so there is a certain freedom which I now enjoy that I can deploy in these final comments on Election 2012.

Here are my takeaways from this election –

Kathy McCullough – please don’t run again. Dixon and Rudolph both went down in flames and if you run again that is probably your fate too. Go out a hero on your own terms. Many of us have high regard for you as a person and we don’t want to see you go out a loser.

Peter Herzog – your reign is over. Do the right thing and step aside for someone new. 20+ years is more than enough. I think Terry Anderson would have done much better if he hadn’t been perceived as one of your puppets.

Terry Anderson – please don’t be too upset about your treatment at the hands of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. It reflects on them, not you.

BTW - If Peter hadn’t been in office, and I hadn’t been running, I would have voted for you myself. Consider a run again. But if you do, as a city official (Planning Commissioner), breaking the law with your banners and signs is not a good example, so please behave yourself next time.

Dwight and Adam – please don’t squander this opportunity to make some meaningful improvements to life in Lake Forest. I know you have a certain loyalty to Scott Voigts, but he’s been a poor example to follow. He is busy taking money from vested interests, voting in their favor without revealing his contacts with them, and generally doing little progressive for the City while busy squabbling with Peter. Many of us who had high hopes for him have been gravely disappointed. You guys can charter your own path. Do it.

Marcia Rudolph – Be happy for the opportunity to take a rest, but don’t disappear. You have a lot of valuable knowledge about the City and I hope you’ll find some type of a role to play. I think you’d be great as a resource to the new Senior Advisory Group.

City Management – Wake up and read the tea leaves. People are not satisfied with your achievements. No, we’re not as bad an example as is the City of Bell, but we’ve got fewer amenities than almost any other City in South County and a higher crime rate. Maybe that’s why more people ran for City Council this year than anytime I can remember. Maybe that’s why none of the candidates connected to the City won a seat. Maybe that’s why incumbents have been thrown out for 2 elections in a row. Maybe that’s why the 2 people who had nothing to do with the City won. It’s time for the City management to take a hard look at themselves and go into 2013 with a rededicated enthusiasm to excel, not just to do their job.

Sarah and The Patch - your online presence was good, but not excellent. There are a lot of ways that things can be improved. For one thing, having opinion polls on certain subjects would be very helpful. I’d like to suggest that you develop a system that recognizes who is/isn’t a legitimate Lake Forest resident so that only these people can vote. We don’t need people from outside the City voting on issues that concern us. I also think that the coverage of the issues, per se, was pretty poor. There should have been a place where people could go, look up an issue (e.g., Musick Jail expansion) and see, at a glance, everyone’s position.

Ericka and The Register – Boy did you guys do a poor job. If newspapers want to stay alive they need to be more relevant. The Patch ate your lunch online, and your print coverage wasn’t particularly good either. Perhaps local news really isn’t what the ORANGE COUNTY Register specializes in, although this year, for the first time, you decided to endorse candidates in local elections. Yet you failed to follow through with good coverage. My apologies on being so hard on you, especially since I was one of two endorsed by The Register, but I’m just telling you what I think.

The Republican Party of Orange County – shame on you. No one makes the world a better place by eating their own. It’s one thing to endorse Adam Nick and Dwight Robinson, but it’s quite another thing to attack Marcia Rudolph, and then, as if that weren’t enough, to attack Terry Anderson and to distort his record on top of that. As soon as I get the time I am going to change my registration from “Republican” to “Independent”. I’m not changing my viewpoints, but I can’t belong to a group that behaves in such a shameless manner. Maybe if enough people follow my example, the people who engineered this shameful exercise will lose some of their power to do this in the future.

Voters  – There’s no question that elections are being bought. In the old days, incumbency and a little money was enough to insure victory. Now, money alone is the deciding factor. That’s a sad state of affairs, but it is what it is. So if you have a candidate, you need to support him or her with more than your good wishes and the occasional comment on a blog. You don’t have to cough up the big bucks – if the nearly 5,000 people who voted for me had given me just $10 apiece, I would have had enough money to win this election. So don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you only have $5 or $10 to donate. Believe me, as a candidate, I know the names of every person who gave me any amount, at any time, and I truly appreciated every single donation.

In closing, if I offended you I apologize. I had a few harsh things to say, but this is what I believe and I say them in the hopes that they might spark improvements. My objective here, as well as my objective in the campaign, has always been to try to make things better, and making things better sometimes starts with a critical analysis of how things are.

The election is over. Let’s all work together in the next two years to make our City the great City that it has the potential to become.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Gardner November 09, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I forgot to mention the terrific job our City Clerk and her staff did. The smooth running of an election falls into her sphere of influence. There are a host of things she has to get done, many of them with deadlines, and most of them depending on other people. She and her staff did everything well and they did it cheerfully. Kudos to all of them.
Andromeda November 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I, for one, appreciate that you spent your time, effort and money to run for a council seat in the last 3 elections, Mr. Gardner. I viewed you as the candidate who represented the true interests of the citizens of Lake Forest without all the other ulterior political motives. You simply wanted to make Lake Forest a better city in which to live. You are like the wise old sage who got uprooted by a couple of neophytes simply because you did not belong to the incestuous political machine and spend a small fortune to buy a seat. It's a sick system that does not represent what's best for the people or our will - it's in place for the self-gratification of a select few. And if you don't dance to their music you will forever be an outsider. They might be able to shut you out of elected office with their money and their power - but they can't shut you up. Please continue to enlighten us with your observations on city government. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your dedication to Lake Forest.
Jim Gardner November 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Thanks a lot Andromeda, I think I mentioned a while ago that win or lose I would continue to contribute to The Patch and that is my intention. I am putting the finishing touches on an article about the ETHS "stadium" which I began researching several weeks ago and I intend to continually monitor spending by the City as well as the acceptance of special interest money by city council members. Thanks for your positive comments in the past.
Lionel M. November 11, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Dr Gardner Do not forsake us. I know you're disappointed by your loss, but you can try again in 2 years. I am part of the problem. I voted for you but that's all I did. I could have volunteered, donated, or done something more. I will help in the next campaign. Please reconsider.
Jim Gardner November 11, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Hi Lionel, You are very kind. Thank you. And thanks for your positive comments during the election. Take your enthusiasm and look for the next candidate who deserves your support. As I said in this blog, running a campaign is extremely difficult, time consuming, all encompassing, and expensive. We've done it 3 times now, each time without winning, so it's time for us to put this aside. I said in response to another comment on an earlier blog that I don't consider a win as the criterion for success, and I believe that my 3 runs for Council have resulted in positive changes in the City that would not have occurred had I not run. For example, when I first began it looked like incumbents were invulnerable, and now they look like sitting ducks. When I first began, the inner workings of the City were shrouded in secrecy. Now we have almost everything online as well as video. When I started complaining about how little was spent in the City, the amount was about 2%. Now it's 5% which is still too little, but a big improvement. The City got away with lying about the crime rate and puffing themselves up in importance. I don't think they'll try that one again. etc. I ran to win, but I am content to be an agent of change outside the system. Once more, thanks for your kind remarks.

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