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DA.: ‘Mayor Dude’ investigation resolved years ago

Neither Santa Clarita City Council member backs down in feud

Posted: April 1, 2013 6:37 p.m.
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:37 p.m.
Santa Clarita City Council members TimBen Boydston, left, and Frank Ferry, right Santa Clarita City Council members TimBen Boydston, left, and Frank Ferry, right
Santa Clarita City Council members TimBen Boydston, left, and Frank Ferry, right

Despite recent questions raised by City Councilman TimBen Boydston, the county District Attorney’s office decided long ago not to investigate Santa Clarita’s 2009 “Mayor Dude” advertising campaign featuring then-Mayor Frank Ferry, an official said Monday.

“We looked into it and it looked like it was an outreach effort,” said Sean Hassett, a deputy district attorney. “The stated motive was to connect with youth in the community. It wasn’t ‘Vote for me, I’m running for mayor.’”

Boydston raised questions about the propriety of the campaign during last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, saying he thought it promoted Ferry, who was up for re-election in 2010.

The city spent $14,000 on the campaign, according to city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz.

Featuring Ferry wearing a backward baseball cap, riding a skateboard or playing a guitar, the campaign was challenged by a citizen who filed a complaint claiming it violated California law prohibiting taxpayer-funded mass mailings in favor of a specific candidate.

The D.A.’s office declined to investigate, making it a moot issue.

Boydston’s questions about the four-year-old issue touched off salvos between the two council members and exposed simmering tensions between Boydston, who was elected last year, and Ferry, who took office in 1998 and says he won’t seek re-election.

“I was very surprised at Mr. Ferry’s reaction because this is not about him,” Boydston said Friday. “It’s about the next election and whether it is OK for us to spend taxpayer money to buy advertising which promotes a particular incumbent.”

Reached by phone Monday, Ferry again said he thinks Boydston was “poking the tiger” by raising the issue now.

“He knew going in that the D.A. said years ago there’s nothing to this,” Ferry said. “He knew that. So four years later he brings up something that he knows. What was the purpose?”

Both council members also hinted at larger differences between the two.

“I have found that many times in the past when things are not going his way he, in my opinion, has been abusive to the citizens he is supposed to work for,” Boydston said of Ferry.

“I think (Boydston) thinks he was elected specifically to take a baseball bat, go up to the hornet’s nest and smack it as hard as he can and see who gets stung,” Ferry said.

“Mayor Dude” was not the only such campaign run by the city. In 2003, the city ran a “Milk and Cookies” with the mayor campaign for then-Mayor Cameron Smyth. Both were aimed at bring residents closer to their elected officials, Ortiz said.

But the city is re-examining its effort at outreach from City Hall.

“I would say from the city’s perspective we want to make it more about citizen engagement and less about specific people,” Ortiz said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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