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Bruce McFarland: City Council bullet-voting 101

Posted: March 12, 2010 6:41 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Most of you have probably heard of bullet voting. Today we'll explore the best strategies to make sure the person or people you want elected, get elected.

First, I'd like to thank my friend and renowned Signal columnist Tim Myers for all his work handicapping the upcoming City Council election.

Like Myers, there is no doubt in my mind, that unless there are some extraordinary extenuating circumstances, the three incumbents will be re-elected.

Extenuating circumstances might include: a tremendous amount of money being spent on a challenger's campaign; a challenger managing to recruit a significant number of new voters, that is to say, voters who have never voted in the City Council race before; an incumbent dropping out of the race, leaving an open seat; or a challenger receiving the endorsement of a highly influential person in the community, like a popular congressman.

Two years ago, all of those conditions fell into place for Laurie Ender, plus she had the added benefit of using several seasoned campaigners to help her run a great campaign.

Extenuating circumstances are not very likely this election, as absentee ballots are scheduled to be mailed out Monday. And, City Council voting in Santa Clarita has an exceptionally high absentee turnout. Eight years ago, absentees accounted for about 52 percent of the ballots cast; both six and four years ago, about 61 percent; and two years ago, nearly 70 percent of the votes cast were by absentee ballots.

According to California Campaign Disclosure Form 460, for the period ending Feb. 27, incumbents Marsha McLean and Frank Ferry each have about $17,000 cash remaining to spend on their campaigns, and Laurene Weste has about $22,000. Challenger David Gauny has the most available funds, at about $24,000, of a total "raised" of $32,000. About half of Gauny's $32,000 is a loan, and probably will need to be paid back. The next sizable amount of money raised is by TimBen Boydston, at about $14,000.

So it appears to me that Gauny and Boydston are the only ones with the finances needed to pull off extraordinary extenuating circumstances, and win a seat.

Henry Schultz has great community respect and name recognition in the valley, and Harrison Katz has been very busy recruiting new and young voters to his campaign. The only way that any of these candidates, or any other challenger for that matter, has a chance of winning a seat, is through an extraordinary amount of bullet voting.

So here's how to help get the person or people you want elected. If you love the City Council as it is and you see no reason to change, vote for all three incumbents. However, if you seriously want any of the challengers to win, don't vote for any incumbent. Even if you like one or two of the incumbents, a vote for them will almost certainly cancel out yours or someone else's vote for a challenger.

On the other hand, if you don't want any incumbent re-elected, and you don't care which challenger gets elected, vote for your favorite three, but remember that the four challengers listed above are the most likely possible winners.

The problem with the odds is that although it's not likely for any challenger to win (read Tim Myers), it is more unlikely that two challengers will win, and even less likely that three will win.

So, let's say you really want one of the top two challengers to win, like Boydston, then don't vote for Gauny, and vice versa. A vote for either one of these two may be the one vote that puts them in office.

If you are choosing Gauny or Boyston as your first choice, and as long as you don't vote for the other one, you are pretty safe in voting for any other non-incumbents as your second and third choices. If you like Schultz or Katz, a vote for them should not impact Gauny or Boydston, but it will send a message about not liking the incumbents.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to vote - who knows, your vote may make the difference.

Bruce McFarland is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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