The race for the open City Council seat in District 2 became a bit heated tonight at a forum sponsored by Neighborhood Council Valley Village. Realizing the shortage of time and the small window of opportunity, some of the candidates went on the attack. Breaking them down, player by player....we will stay in ballot order, as that is how Valley Village felt they should be seated at tonights forum.
Tamar Galatzan started off by saying she was running because she was sick of her DWP bill. Later in the forum she actually said something about reducing the number of city employees! I loved hearing that, but sadly, Tamar is not a Conservative and never will be...so I treated this as a bit of campaign fluff.
Tamar landed a vicious little kidney punch to Christine Essel, when she finished an answer about energy options by saying.." Oh..and by the way...the people who supported Measure B are also supporting Chris Essel." Essel was completely unprepared for this. She looked like she had stepped on an electrical wire. She rocked back in her seat and her eyes popped wide open and her jaw dropped.
Welcome to politics, Chris. Score. Tamar 1, Chris 0.
Joe Essavi had a lot of well thought out answers. He claimed to be different from others seeking office.
"Once the politicians hit the floor downtown, you can't tell them apart," he said.
He promised to be different and be more responsive to the community.
Christine Essel was nice and polite and charming, but she bungled an answer about schools. When asked to name one school in CD 2 she thought could be helped by changing the school system, Essel didn't name one and immediately switched her answer to talking about the the entertainment industry. She also was on the defensive about her carpetbagging image. "I'm a Valley Girl through and through," she said. In defense of her residency, she added "I have my DWP bill if people don't think I live in my apartment." There were some coughs from the audience, and David Saltsburg (Zuma Dogg) shook his head in disgust and disbelief upon hearing this from Essel. Chris had another rough night on the campaign trail, but her overwhelming finances may prove to be the ultimate factor that gets her through to the runoff.
Michael McCue was the surprise of the evening. He had a large number of good, solid answers. In fact, he sounded like the only candidate who had predicted the questions and knew his answers ahead of time. McCue also had one of the most humorous moments of the night, when talking about City Council , he said "The City Council doesn't want to listen to us Neighborhood Council people." He then put his fingers in his ears and loudly sang "la-la la- la - la !" The crowd erupted in laughter.
Pete Sanchez gave a smooth answer to the question Chris Essel stumbled on , as he responded that Burbank Elementary was one school he could see being helped. Pete was on comfortable ground as he was around many supporters in Valley Village. "This is my home turf, " he said.
David Saltsburg (Zuma Dogg) repeated his campaign mantra that he was the only one going to City Council meetings for the last three years as an activist and keeping an eye on public policy issues . "How are we going to fix this pension crisis? How do we keep the firefighters on the job?", he asked the audience. Some sparks flew between Saltsburg and Sheftel when Saltsburg felt Sheftel was stepping on one of his answers a little bit. But nothing much grew out of it.
Frank Sheftel came out with both guns blazing and went after two of the "Big 3" right away. Calling out Paul Krekorian, he said "You were only elected a few months ago, Paul!" Sheftel also unloaded on Tamar Galatzan, although not mentioning her by name when he went off on a tangent about mailers and campaign money. "What about sending out mailers that are not from your campaign account?" , he asked the voters.
There were some Tamar supporters in the crowd...and they definitely got the message. They didn't like it and started booing Sheftel in response.
Paul Krekorian told a real whopper tonight when he said "I am the only one " to do anything about runaway production. This seemed like an indirect slap at Chris Essel to me, but Essel didn't seem to notice it.
Krekorian also defended his status as a carpetbagger by saying that "I'm not parachuting in from West L.A.!" He also stated that he has already represented about 1/3 of the CD 2 voters in the State Assembly.
Mary Benson was focused and cool. Of all the grassroots candidates, I think she is the one who has the fewest enemies. Everyone seems to like her. She had some good responses about "developers who lie" about their projects and intentions. She also didn't like the gerrymandered layout of CD 2, but doesn't want redistricting, out of concern about how much worse it might be made.
Augusto Bisani is always entertaining. Refreshingly bold and honest, he admits to not being a politician and having no further goals beyond this City Council seat. When asked about the other candidates who are carpetbaggers, he said "We know how the 7 or 8 of us feel. When other people decided they wanted to live here."
Good forum ... I thought that McCue was the winner here tonight.