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Paul Strickland: It’s about time we put people over politics

Posted: September 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal views. I am writing as a private citizen, and not as an appointed or elected official.

I was a candidate in this year’s California primary election and I’ve been receiving emails and phone calls asking me three questions: Why am I supporting Democrat Edward Headington over Republican Scott Wilk for the 38th Assembly? Why did I renege on my pledge to support the Republican 38th Assembly nominee? Did I know “they” were going to run a candidate against me in the Hart board election next year?

Simply put, I was personally attacked, my character and community service belittled, and my candidacy marginalized, not by the Democrats, but by my own fellow Republicans. I did not violate Reagan’s 11th Commandment, which is the premise for the unity pledge. I did not practice character assassination upon any of my competitors. I believe that politicizing our non-partisan local school district elections is flat-out wrong.

Leadership in the local Republican Party has been contested for years between two camps, those supporting Bob Haueter and those supporting the political kingmaker, Scott Wilk. Since both groups have what is considered to be Republican values at heart, it has been a power struggle pure and simple. I was one of the few Republicans active in all the local clubs and organizations, and as that struggle progressed, I worked hard to keep the peace.

June’s 38th Assembly primary race determined the outcome of local Republican politics. The entrance of Patricia McKeon added the dynasty issue and helped to morph the race from a battle between the Wilk and Haueter camps into a contest between the pro-McKeons and the anti-McKeons.

All three of the Republican candidates signed the Lincoln Club’s so-called Republican Unity Pledge. Two of the initial sentences say: “I pledge to observe Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment by refraining from personal attacks on other Republican candidates. I pledge that my campaign will be based on the issues and will be conducted with integrity.” Mailers and blogs made it quite clear that I was the only candidate of the three who was not involved in personal attacks.

As an elected Hart board member I had the privilege of handing out high school diplomas during recent 2012 graduation ceremonies held at College of the Canyons in front of thousands of friends and families of the graduates. It was extremely uplifting for all who attended, and I participated in all of the graduation ceremonies. Unfortunately, when people returned to their cars, they found flyers in their windshields attacking my character and candidacy. This was not literature from Democrats. It was from a fellow Republican candidate. I recalled Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment.

From the beginning, my campaign was marginalized and ignored. Local contributions were split between McKeon and Wilk based upon contributors’ political alliances. My usual school board sources did not donate to me. Since donations more than $99 are reportable, I believe fear of disclosure played a role in the donation process.

It was not until political surveys by both parties showed me to be leading that my candidacy was taken seriously. How could Paul Strickland, a candidate with no money or traditional political endorsements be in the lead? I was not a member of a political dynasty, nor was I chosen by a party kingmaker.

Their only answer was that I was being confused with Tony Strickland. Granted, there was name recognition, but my years of elected community service were completely overlooked and thereby, denied.

Actually, I had overwhelmingly won three elections in an area more than half the population size of the 38th Assembly district. I had more elected public service than all three of my opponents combined.

I also had the audacity to run against the status quo without asking my party “leaders” for permission to do so. According to multiple local Republican “insiders,” part of the retribution is the threat of my new party leaders to find a candidate to run against me in a non-partisan school board election next year. My 25 years of service are well documented, and cannot be dismissed by political bullies.

I did not leave the Republican Party. I simply believe that Democrat Edward Headington will better represent the 38th Assembly District. My campaign slogan was “People Over Politics.” I wanted to end the political posturing of both major parties and begin focusing on the people of the 38th.

Headington will put people over politics. As a businessman, he will review laws that restrict economic growth and promote legislation that encourages the entrepreneurial attitude that made California great. He will fight to ensure that Proposition 98, which assigns specific tax dollars for education, is honored. He will work for ALL of the people in the 38th Assembly District.

The California Legislature is at a stalemate; and more and more, the state is being governed via the initiative process. Legislation is also actually being written by lobbyists and special interest groups. What kind of a system is this? Where in the state or national Constitutions does it say our government should be conducted by lobbyists, lawyers and special interest groups?

Both major parties must face the reality that the way to turn things around is not to elect lobbyists and political insiders who do nothing but advocate for the political polarization of their rigid idealistic views, while they scheme their way into higher national political positions.

We are a society of individuals who have the fundamental right to express our opinions without fear of being bullied into servitude. Toeing the party line does not make it right.

Paul B. Strickland Sr. is a Valencia resident


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