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Myers' Musings: TimBen Boydston will win a seat . . . in 2012

By Tim Myers

Posted: October 10, 2009 8:52 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
A short review: Several months ago, when the incumbent City Council members effectively decided to run on a slate-type parliamentary ticket, they built the impregnable fortress of incumbency approximately 12 feet higher.

Historical numbers indicate the strategy of running together orchestrated by local political operatives could raise the vote total of the third incumbent to 5,600 - a tally only one first-time candidate has ever received since the inaugural election in 1987 at city formation.

George Pedersen was the lone vote-getter of that magnitude, and the year was 1992. (One could actually discount this victory, since George didn't face an incumbent but won the open seat vacated by Buck McKeon's election to Congress.)

So recently, TimBen Boydston - who actually ran for the City Council in 1996 and polled a very modest number of votes, later serving by appointment in the seat vacated by Cameron Smyth's election to the state Assembly - announced the formation of a serious candidacy for City Council against the three incumbents.

Boydston's announcement does not change the numerical analysis, since only two incumbents in the now-lengthening history of the city ever lost their seats.

The first: Founding council member Dennis Koontz, who came in a surprising sixth in 1990 after winning a seat on the first council. (Jill Klajic accomplished the improbable feat of unseating an incumbent that year.)

Paradoxically, Klajic herself would fall victim to an anti-incumbency effort in 1994 when she lost by 16 votes to the well-known Clyde Smyth, longtime superintendent of the Hart district.

Now "supporters" of Boydston protest that this is a ripe time for unseating an incumbent, primarily due to their dislike of the incumbent council members, and Boydston must believe this himself without the benefit of any pesky data.

The facts remain: The climate surrounding the first incumbent defeat in 1990 involved the combination of a minor local scandal and the withdrawal of a major support base due to lack of interest.

In 1994 certain development and other interests angered by Klajic's anti-growth positions funded a targeted campaign to unseat her - and barely succeeded.

Quite frankly, I see nothing comparable in the current climate other than the general dissatisfaction of the 50.5 percent of voters who cast votes for candidates other than the current incumbents in 2006, so Boydston will come in fourth in the election in April 2010.

But another pattern emerges in the numbers that suggests that Boydston will victoriously and easily ascend to the City Council in 2012, when Bob Kellar provides an "open" seat by fulfilling his pledge to not seek a new term.

Why does Boydston win in 2012? The absolute most common path to the City Council occurs when a candidate runs, loses and then runs again in the next election when an incumbent vacates one or more seats.

To review: Jill Klajic came fourth in the 1994 election and then came second in 1996 when George Pedersen did not seek re-election.

In 1996, Frank Ferry and Laurene Weste came third and fourth and came storming back in 1998 to come second and third, replacing Clyde Smyth and Carl Boyer.

In 1998, Cameron Smyth came fourth and in 2000 came first, winning one of the two open seats vacated by Jan Heidt and Jill Klajic. Marsha McLean came third in 2000 and ascended to the City Council in 2002, taking the seat vacated by JoAnn Darcy.

One sees the dominoes start to fall, and Boydston appears certain to come fourth in the 2010 election and then easily take the seat vacated by Bob Kellar in 2012.

But this type of two-step candidacy can cause much pain. The candidates listed above did not plan to lose the first time out so they could win when an incumbent vacated a seat.

They intended to win and ran strong campaigns, finding only limited comfort in the realization they would win the second time around or, in Marsha McLean's case, the third time around.

Their supporters will certainly hope for a win, and will certainly feel bad when the inevitable occurs.

And my own personal quandary exists. I counseled Boydston personally not to run for the City Council based on the unlikelihood of victory, but further examination of the data reveals he can certainly win a seat in 2012, but only if he runs and loses in 2010.

It gets very difficult when one must recommend the counterintuitive, but Boydston needs the courage to lose in order to win.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident and CPA who thinks numbers hold the key to everything. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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