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‘Mayor Dude’ comes under fire

Recently elected council member suggests 2009 campaign may have violated law

Posted: March 26, 2013 8:14 p.m.
Updated: March 26, 2013 8:14 p.m.

In a move longtime Santa Clarita City Councilman Frank Ferry likened to “poking the tiger,” Councilman TimBen Boydston on Tuesday night questioned the legality of a 2009 city advertising campaign dubbed “Mayor Dude.”

Ferry likened Boydston’s questions to a character assault and said Boydston had brought a “hateful” tone to the City Council.

“You have zero ability to collaborate or cooperate with your colleagues,” Ferry told Boydston.

The councilman elected last year said he was trying to “even the playing field” in future council elections.

“That is my whole reason for doing this,” Boydston said. “And I will continue to do it and I will continue to bring ideas in this coming year so I can make the (2014) election more fair.”

The “Mayor Dude” campaign, which featured then-Mayor Ferry, was a youth outreach aimed at making City Hall more relevant to young people. At that time the city ran advertising campaigns for each mayor to promote his or her particular emphasis.

Ferry, a longtime educator, focused on youth. The city ran advertisements in paper publications and online, as well as operating a Facebook and Twitter account for “Mayor Dude.”

Boydston said Tuesday he was concerned the campaign may have been an improper use of taxpayer funds that gave Ferry an improper advantage in the 2010 City Council elections.

Ferry said he did not think Boydston’s rationale was genuine. He noted Boydston had attempted to increase his own pay after elected to the council — even though he knew council member benefits were cut before he ran for the position.

“It’s about the taxpayer today, but it’s not about the taxpayer when you want to raise your own pay and your own benefits,” Ferry said.

Boydston also questioned whether the Mayor Dude outreach could have been a violation of the state law prohibiting mass mailings from cities in favor of or against a specific candidate in an election.

City Attorney Joseph Montes said the Mayor Dude campaign was not a violation because it demonstrated no intent to break the law.

“The person responsible for the ad has to have intent to violate mass-mailing prohibition,” Montes said.
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