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My head says 'no,' but my heart says wear the lucky hat

Posted: March 19, 2010 4:51 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2010 4:55 a.m.
With the Santa Clarita City Council election just over the horizon and actually largely taking place even now through the return of mail-in ballots, I must once again discuss the trope that my historical references on past elections, acting in proxy for prediction of current elections, somehow masks a conspiratorial bias in favor of the incumbents and a wish to maintain some nefarious status quo.

In my work over the last 26 years, I needed to apply the disciplines of law, finance and accounting. For successful application these disciplines require passionless practice without emotion. Thus, when one examines the history of Santa Clarita elections one sees quickly that challengers only unseated incumbents twice in 21 years, once by an extremely narrow margin of fewer than 20 votes.

The (numerous) unsuccessful challengers attribute their losses to low voter turnout. I would turn that on its head to assert that voter turnout comes in too high to help the challengers.

Numerical analysis of City Council elections and other local elections imply a base of voters somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 strong who recognize a strong civic duty to cast ballots in each election, but fail to recognize a strong civic duty to know the actual candidates or issues. Lemming-like, these zombie voters tend to punch that button for the incumbent. This grants the incumbents overwhelming victories when no serious candidates challenge them and narrower victories in the alternative.

This doesn't mean I never support the challengers, though my head indicates this is pointless. In the recent William S. Hart Union High School District board election, I wore my lucky hat all day on election day in a superstitious attempt to get candidate Joe Messina over the hump. (It succeeded.)

On March 13, I obtained a TimBen Boydston campaign sign to place in my front yard to influence the one other person on our 20-home cul de sac whom I know for sure will cast a vote in the election.

With permanent mail-in ballots distributed on March 15, by the time you read this my ballot will safely reside in the care, custody and control of the City Clerk's office and it will contain votes for the following three candidates:

* Harrison Katz, the 19-year-old earnest young man from College of the Canyons. In earlier columns, I joked that he earned my vote through his knowledge of an actual election and the absence of visible tattoos or piercings.

He actually earned my vote through his serious-minded wish to serve in an elected capacity, and while I know he stands little chance of winning I believe he needs encouragement, and I hope my vote will contribute to a reasonable total of around 2,000 votes.
* Frank Ferry, 12-year incumbent, former ASB director of Valencia High School, and current principal of Alemany High School. I joked in the past that Ferry earned my vote forever when he pulled the infamous "Spirit Award" prank on the Hart High School community. While this did inform my decision, it actually reflects Ferry's passion for building Valencia High from a base of zero to a CIF powerhouse. Even to this day many of the programs and personnel he helped train and put in place continue to drive that school forward, and I believe Ferry can continue to drive our city forward.
* Boydston, a former appointed City Council member who kept his promise not to run for election in 2008, even though he could take advantage of a certain sheen of incumbency, is valiantly attempting to unseat an incumbent for only the third time in the history of the city.

The numbers and historical trends of city elections mean this column will not impact the final outcome in any way shape or form. Permanent mail-in ballots should constitute about 70 percent of the total votes cast, and the propensity of vote-by-mailers to quickly turn around their ballots within about five days means the results of the election already sit in the city clerk's office or in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service, on their way to City Hall.

But despite that, I plan to wear my lucky hat all day on election day to see if it might once again lift someone to victory. Though my head screams not to, my heart just makes me wear it.

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


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