The elections for the Hollywood Neighborhood Councils have come and gone and to many it was a huge surprise to see that those who tried to cheat and dominate the ballots were literally ousted.
Much to my own surprise candidates who tried to be elected by telling the untruth were not even close of becoming a board member on the Hollywood Studio District NC (HSDNC) and candidates who tried to be elected to a minimum of two boards ended up being elected to only one new board or remained seated on their previous ones. This was the case for Mr. Scott Campbell, Mr. Tom Meredith and Mr. David Bell.
Campbell ran for re-election to the parliamentarian seat of the Hollywood Hills West NC, but he lost his seat to Robert Mott (link: http://empowerla.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Hollywood-Hills-West-NC-Canvass-of-Votes.pdf)
He did, however, get elected to the board of the East Hollywood NC, even though this was easy since he had no competition in his category for Neighborhood District 2: Thai Town South Representative.
Bell also hoped to be elected to HSDNC and while at the same time be re-elected to his East Hollywood NC (EHNC). In the case of Bell, he got his wish.
It now needs to be seen as to how well Bell and Campbell will serve the communities their NC’s represent.
The other double-runner, Tom Meredith of the Hollywood Studio District, was re-elected to this board, but he failed to be elected to board of Hollywood United NC’s Geographical Area 1. (link: http://empowerla.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Hollywood-United-NC-Canvass-of-Votes.pdf)
His opponent and incumbent Nicole Manzo claimed that seat by three votes. (link: http://empowerla.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Hollywood-United-NC-Canvass-of-Votes.pdf). This should leave Meredith ample time to serve his constituents of the HSDNC.
There are still a number of things that mind baffle me though. For example: How well was the Outreach done by the NCs and DONE (aka: Empowerla.org) in order to recruit new candidates and ultimately on how to bring out the voters? I was told that by the end of the day the voter turnout is the one thing that counts.
Back in the 2010 NC elections, which were conducted by the Los Angeles’ City Clerk, a number of voters and candidates appeared on the ballots, but some of these candidates failed to appear at the polling place to even vote for themselves.
If you believe in “History repeats itself”, you are right.
Mr. Rick Cullen, candidate for Hollywood Hills West NC’s (HHWNC) “Hollywood Knolls / Manor / Lake Hollywood / Forest Lawn Committee Chair” didn’t even take the time to vote for himself in order to ensure that he would have at least one vote to secure him the seat. He had NO competition and it takes only 1 vote to win. Unless he is a resident of Forest Lawn or had a major medical emergency, his tally of votes should have at least listed the number ONE (1), but instead it shows ZERO (0).
So why run in the first place if one’s life is too pre occupied with other things that keeps them so busy to not even vote for themselves?
Most of the categories of the HHWNC elected only one seat anyway, so how hard could it be to go out and get the stakeholders interested in running for it, even if there is an incumbent running for re-election?
A total of 32 candidates were on the HHWNC ballot, vying for a seat in their respected category and hoping to be one of the 23 total elected board members. 16 of these 32 (half of the ballot) were incumbents, hoping to be re-elected to the board. With a population of roughly 46,800 having a voter turnout of 221 people (roughly 0.5%) is horrible, but it sure makes the part of being re-elected easy.
It is not surprising that 13 of the 16 incumbents were in fact given another term on that board by their people (you know who you are), while 9 of the new candidates got a shot to be part of the fun.
HUNC didn’t do better either, considering that they had a total voter turnout of only 35 people. When only 35 voters show up in a district representing a population of roughly 19,944 people (give or take a few) it comes across as embarrassing and lazy in regard to outreach. How else can they explain that not even 1% of their stakeholders came out to vote?
It is hard to grasp that there were 8 candidates running for 7 seats on the board. Guess what? 6 of those 8 were incumbents. Highest vote getter for HUNC was its current president Susan Swan, who took 32 votes of the 35 voters. Also, one of the HUNC categories has 2 seats available, yet only the incumbent ran. Sad, don’t you think?
Let’s move on to the East Hollywood NC (EHNC) election. They have a population of approximately 50,500 and a total of 392 voters showed up. That’s roughly 0.8%. – Two points short of 1%.
It might appear that they did better than HHWNC and HUNC, but if you are into numbers you will notice that the population of EHNC is bigger than HUNC or HHWNC.
EHNC had 16 seats open for grabs. A total of 26 candidates crowded the ballot, 11 of which were incumbents and they were eager to get back on the board. The remaining group of newbies tried to become a board member, and six of them actually made it. Yes, I had to emphasize that, since any of these newbies had a choice to not vote either, like . Cullen did not even vote for himself.
This leaves us with two more Hollywood NCs: Hollywood Studio District (HSDNC) and Central Hollywood (CHNC).
Looking at the results from HSDNC I must say that they had a strange line up of candidates, but it was a fair mix after all.
Having a population of approximately 32,000 and a voter turnout of 192 is shameful, but the fact that they had a total of 25 candidates for 16 elected seats could almost make up for it. Yes, ALMOST. – Almost does not really cut it, though. Having had a turnout of about 0.6% is nothing any NC should be proud off.
13 incumbents and 12 hopefuls truly made me curious about the outcome of the election and the fact that the HSDNC is the neighborhood council representing me.
10 of the 13 incumbents did get re-elected, even though they were running against candidates who tried to lie their way into the hearts of the voters. Even an eleventh hour change in candidate’s statements, correcting the lies to be more truthful did not pan out for . Plapinger and Ms. Kelley. But as the old saying goes: “Let bygones be bygone’s and let us move forward from here on.”
Last be not least there is CHNC. With close to 20,000 stakeholders they drew in 65 people of that population. 4 seats were up to be elected, and two of the current board members (AKA: Incumbents) were hoping to get back on. One of them, Ms. Laurie Goldman, got the nod from her peeps, while . David Ambroz had to bow out after being shown the door by the voters.
Having 9 candidates to choose from voters went with 1 familiar and 3 newcomers. Still, having almost NO turnout with barely 0.3 % is, oh, I don’t know: Embarrassing? Lazy? And then there is another word, but it escapes me at this point.
The only thing left to point out is that the NC’s have public funds available to them that they could have used to conduct real outreach with. In fact, CHNC declared at one of its board meetings that they would not want to spend much on mailers, but rather utilize the internet for that purpose.
Quite frankly I don’t think that all of it population is part of their e-data base, but if they are all signed up with CHNC than where were those masses that should have come out since they got the e-newsletter telling them about the election?
Where were the remaining 99+% of voters for these entire NCs? – Granted it was a beautiful Sunday September 16, 2012, but I am certain they were not all out at the beaches. In fact, I saw some spending time at Home Depot.
I was told that some of the outcome might have had something to do with a CityWatchLA article (link: http://www.citywatchla.com/4box-left/3721-want-to-rule-hollywood-try-sitting-on-multiple-nc-boards), but I like to think that the residents themselves felt compelled to make a difference, as little as it might have been.
There are several things that can and probably should be improved when it comes to the lowest level of governmental elections and OUTREACH is one of the highest priorities to change.
Perhaps by 2014 we can not only double, but triple the number of candidates and voters alike and ONLY THEN can we claim that the NCs empower LA.