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Tim Myers: Honey, I'll be home after my 175th house party

Posted: January 30, 2010 3:01 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
So the citizens of Santa Clarita, or at least the 13 percent of eligible voters (about 11,000 to 12,000 people) find themselves in the midst of a City Council election campaign, and those probably 800 discrete people who made themselves fans or friends of three candidates' social networking sites can monitor the every move of David Gauny, TimBen Boydston and Harrison Katz, the three challengers to the power of incumbency who look to mount an actual campaign.

Let me go on the record now regarding my personal votes for City Council. I will vote for Harrison Katz because he is 19 and knows there is an actual City Council election. (Also, no visible tattoos or piercings).

I will vote for Johnny Pride because, according to sources, he submitted nomination papers with "bad signatures" (not registered voters) and scrambled in a day to fix the defect.

I will vote for Frank Ferry solely because he pulled off the great "Spirit Award" prank over Hart High School in 1998.

Some might find my choices frivolous, but I will argue one cannot find them more frivolous than the demonstrable fact that 25 percent of those 12,000 who show up to the polls will vote for the incumbents no matter what, giving them an incredible advantage that challengers only surmounted twice in city history.

Meanwhile, the three serious challengers will struggle mightily to scrape up the 5,200 votes probably needed to unseat an incumbent from the probable 5,000 to 6,000 voters who will not vote for an incumbent, fighting off the five other candidates who will grab votes away from them.

Consider my vote for Johnny Pride and my "heritage" vote for Frank Ferry, depriving the very deserving candidates of Gauny and Boydston of one of their 5,200 needed votes.

The calendar works against them. The campaign seemed to kick off in earnest beginning the week of Jan. 18 and will take place April 13.

The candidates possess a rather slim 12 weeks to campaign for those 5,200 votes, and a mere eight weeks to get at least 3,100 votes.

Recent history indicates the city will receive 60 percent of the total votes cast by mail about three to four weeks before the election.

Since 1996, no candidate successfully wiped out a deficit built into the mail-in votes at the actual polls, so one could convincingly argue the election ends around March 12.

So let's do some math. Serious challengers seem to get around 1,500 votes from people they already know and a reward for actually attempting a race, so they need to convince an incremental 3,700 people over the next 12 weeks, or a velocity of 300-plus per week.

How did they do in the first full week of the campaign?

According to Facebook, the three strongest challengers spent the week at various campaign venues including the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, a joint fundraiser for Gauny and Boydston at Stonefire Grill and various house parties. Based on status reports, the various candidates probably met about 200 to 300 people collectively, and at most 200 people on an individual basis - probably spending about eight to 10 hours of their personal time in the bargain.

Unfortunately, that leaves them a 100-voter deficit in their trek, so they need to convince nearly 320 people per week for the last 11 weeks.
The events last week averaged about 80 people (sadly, a huge political event for our community of 177,000 souls). Presumably, the candidates would kick off with their biggest draws.

The candidates will now move forward attending house parties and other smaller events where fewer than 20 and sometimes fewer than 10 people show up, making it harder and harder to personally touch a large number of voters.

So let's get very optimistic and say the candidates can attend parties and meet-and-greet events where they can meet 30 new discrete people. With 11 weeks left, they now need to attend about 115 events between now and then - or an average of a whopping 10 per week.
Now the incumbents will probably not attend these house parties, instead spending their time raising money to float direct mailers, which still seem to impact the local election process the most in a quaint, 20th-century way.

So if one or more challengers actually pull off a victory, make no mistake about the effort that went into that victory.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column represents his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Myers' Musings" appears Sundays in The Signal.

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