Friday, September 19, 2014

Observations on the Oct. 7 recall election

Observations on the upcoming Oct. 7 recall election and the Nov. 4 general election:

--This first comment will displease fierce partisans on both sides of the recall battle, but they're surely underestimating the intelligence of Yorba Linda voters with incessant rec- orded telephone pitches and over-the-top wording and pictures on campaign material.

For example, a mailer from the 61-member county Republican Central Committee (42 elected from seven state Assembly districts and 19 ex-officios holding or seeking office) used the negative buzz words “liberal” and “special interests” three times to describe recall proponents.

I don't think a “liberal” has ever been elected to the City Council in 47 years of cityhood, and, of course, opponents are always “special interests” embroiled in a “power grab.” Obviously, a consultant paid close attention to the “loaded words” lecture in Propaganda Techniques class.

A propaganda piece left on doorsteps by recall supporters showed a picture of six-story de-caying multi-family housing units, noting “Yorba Linda has Nothing in Common with Detroit.”

And a pro-recall mailer used the hoary device of displaying unflattering pictures of opponents overlaid with diagonal lines through red circles, a less-than-gracious tactic that counters the more sensible “not gracious living” term the mailer applied to developer-proposed four-story apartments.

Add the fact that both sides are calling opponents “liars” and worse, and you have the real possibility of a small turnout deciding the issue, since the academic research that I've read demonstrates broad-based voter participation declines as negative campaigning increases.

--By the time recall ballots are counted and the election certified, any change in council membership most likely will occur at the Nov. 4 meeting, the same date as balloting for two council seats ends at 8 p.m., although a quick certification could lead to an Oct. 21 turnover.

At any rate, if the recall supporters win, the Nov. 4 and Nov. 18 council meetings could bring a number of changes, as a new four-member majority controls the dais for a month before John Anderson departs and two Nov. 4 winners are installed at the Dec. 2 meeting.

And it's possible Tom Lindsey could be recalled with a 50 percent or higher margin Oct. 7, leave office Nov. 4 and return Dec. 2, if he places first or second in the Nov. 4 election, especially if voter turnout is higher.

Four past council elections (1980, 1990, 1998 and 2010) featured six candidates as does this year's Nov. 4 ballot. The first-place candidate won with from 22 to 31 percent of the vote, and the second-place winner took from 18 to 24 percent.

--Last day to register to vote is Sept. 22 for the Oct. 7 recall and Oct. 20 for the Nov. 4 ballot. Check your personal registration status at (click on “registration”). You might still be registered even if you didn't receive sample ballot materials.