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Leaders differ on neutrality

Affiliation is a good thing, head of Republican Party says, while Democratic counterpart says issues aren’t related to parties.

October 27, 2008|By Alan Blank

When it comes to serious funding from the two major political parties at work in the Costa Mesa City Council race, there are the haves and have-nots.

Although city council races are considered nonpartisan throughout the state, according to the state’s election code, thousands of dollars of party money have financed mailers, fliers and other advocacy on behalf of Costa Mesa council candidates.

Five of the nine candidates don’t have a dime of discernible money from the Republicans or Democrats, while the other four have varying degrees of support.

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Among the candidates with no partisan support, Lisa Reedy and Bill Sneen have gone the furthest to distance themselves from party influence. Aside from not courting party money, the two changed their voter-registration statuses to “decline to state” in order to make it clear to voters that they didn’t plan to bring partisan ideology to City Hall.

Sometimes issues that are big-party platforms on the national stage, such as taxes and immigration, distract the council from citywide concerns that the council has more influence over and are more important to residents’ day-to-day lives, Reedy said.

“There’s so much emphasis on issues like that that we’ve perhaps lost touch with some of the real issues in our city,” Reedy said.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, Scott Baugh, disagrees with the premise that the elections should be nonpartisan. The Republican Party has spent thousands on glossy mailers supporting Gary Monahan, Jim Righeimer and Eric Bever in the race, and Baugh sees no problem with the party’s involvement.

“When policies are being made that affect, for example, my taxes or my ability to run a business, I want someone on that council that’s going to have a philosophy of more limited government than more expansive government,” Baugh said.

In addition to the money spent on behalf of the three endorsed candidates, each of them has received thousands individually from Republican political activists and donors such as George Argyros, Buck Johns and Baugh himself.

Katrina Foley is supported by the county’s Democratic leaders, but with significantly less money. She is listed on the Democratic Foundation of Orange County’s voter guide, along with many other Democrats running for office, and she has $100 donations from a couple of party leaders.

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