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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Candidate Endorsements

Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Elections are coming up March 8th and it's now time for us here at MayorSam to make our official endorsements of candidates in the race. The good news is that so many folks have entered the race and in most cases you have a choice. Let's run down the ballots, shall we?


Tom Smoker, Sunland-Tujunga's Honorary Mayor, is a born and bred Sunland-Tujunga native and a long time participant in local affairs. Look at this guy - he OOZES Sunland-Tujunga, going back to a time when the rural life was respected and politicians listened to the community and not the other way around. A military veteran, union member and veteran film and television production crew member, Tom brings the "everyman" point of view that Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council needs, without any baggage. He's the guy who is going to stand up to city officials and go to the mat for Sunland-Tujunga. His opponents, "newspaper" publisher David DeMulle is a joke, but more importantly an organizational disaster in the making. DeMulle, particularly in recent days, has shown himself to not at all be above not personally attacking individuals in the community as he desperately tries to win this race. The other candidate, incumbent Mark Seigel, is an avuncular figure who speaks quite articulately but is completely lacking the fire in the belly to stand up for Sunland-Tujunga in the way a President should. Mark is a technocrat who can lead an emergency response team, run an event and teach folks in the fine art of Ham Radio. But Mark has shown severe weakness as a leader and that weakness has also led to him looking the other way to local tomfoolery by the powers that be. Mark frequently makes weak excuses when challenged. He's a nice enough chap who I'd pick to be a Scoutmaster in a heartbeat, but Sunland-Tujunga is at probably the most critical juncture in it's history and we need a tough leader. Vote for Tom Smoker.


This is an uncontested race and thus an endorsement is really not necessary. There is no option for write-in candidates nor a "none the above" choice. As well, Tomi represents a mixed bag for me. She has a long record of volunteering and is adept at land use issues, one of her areas of specialty. At times, she has been too close to the "machine" and has not always spoken out when she should about their poor decisions. However, of all the members, past and present, of the machine, Tomi has shown a fairly frequent independent streak. Although Tomi did not ask hard questions about the Day Street Homeless Apartments, and supported this controversial project, she has been tough on other issues of the homeless, frequently departing from the party line of the Chamber and the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. It is obvious that Tomi is passionate about the community, and since there is no other option, it would be great to see Tomi channel her passion and her independence towards reform in Sunland-Tujunga on these key issues. Vote for Tomi Bowling.


Wally Wharton is a decades long Sunland-Tujunga homeowner and activist who defines the notion of an "involved stakeholder." She is a serious student of local government, regularly attends City Council and County Board of Superviors meetings and frequently comments on these issues on local talk radio programs and publications. Wally does indeed bring a flair to the campaign. In addition to being a published author, she's an actress who's appeared in a number of films including Cheech and Chong's "Up In Smoke." But her eclectic manner is really a reflection of the diverse funkiness of Sunland-Tujunga and we need that in our local leadership. Wally, a UCLA alum, is an intellectual who can discuss everything from Kafka to Barbie dolls. More importantly, she brings a thoughtful perspective on the issues and a commitment to the community. Wally's opponent, Brenda Fortune, is a long time Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council board member whose made the circuit of Chamber and service clubs locally. She's put in many hours and has worked on many projects for the community. But it's time for a change and new leadership. Vote for Wally Wharton.


This is another uncontested race with no option for write-ins or other choices. The sole candidate, Sandra Bagus, in statements made online and otherwise, to not have the emotional nor intellectual depth to serve in this role. However, she will be elected and we just have to hope for the best. One option you may consider is not to mark a choice on the ballot for this office. It will not impact the results, but it will deflate her overall count viz-a-viz total ballots cast and make a statement. Sometimes the best vote is no vote.


Bonnie Corwin has decades of experience in financial management and accounting, having worked with many community organizations, including the Red Cross. She brings a fresh perspective and an accounting background her opponent, current Treasurer Nina Royal, lacks. Royal has put in many years of hard work as one of Sunland-Tujunga's most storied activists but recent statements by Royal show that perhaps it's time for her to move on after many years on the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. Royal seems more suited to matters of outreach, public safety and policy. With a move by City Controller Ron Galperin to become more transparent and use technology to share financial data with city residents, neighborhood councils would be well advised to choose financial professionals as treasurer to help sort out the new process. Vote for Bonnie Corwin.


DANA STANGEL - Stangel is a longtime local resident who has shown significant talent and passion creating and running non-profit organizations, most notably Teranga Ranch which helps to rescue reptiles and similar animals. She has great energy, is extremely intelligent and will bring much needed new blood to the board. Stangel is probably one of the most exciting candidates in this year's crop.

SERGIO E. SOTO - Soto's previous public service has been limited to his membership in his local Masonic Lodge and it appears that he wants to serve on the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council to help boost that organization. However, he exhibits newcomer energy that the board is severely in need of. I believe he will very quickly learn the ropes and be a great representative.

ROSIE N. TER-MATEVOSYAN - Another newcomer, but as an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Rosie knows what it's like to live under a repressive regime. As it was once said "Only Nixon can go to China," perhaps Rosie can share her American dream experience in her leadership and make the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council an open, serving and transparent organization once again.

KRYSTEE CLARK  - Coming on what will be her sophomore term on the board if re-elected, Clark has a lot of passion, is articulate and is one of the younger members of the bunch. While published comments she made about the effort to save the Verdugo Hills Golf Course concern me, I'm willing to give Krystee another shot.

MARLENE HITT - Marlene has decades of service in Sunland-Tujunga and is most known for her work with Bolton Hall and the Little Landers Historical Society. As much as Krystee Clark brings youth, Marlene brings context and can adeptly advise the board on matters within the conext of our long history. 

JOHN LAUE - A former member of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council board, Laue wishes to return and use his knowledge of environmental issues to advise the board. Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council needs someone like this, particuarlly with issues around the Wash, the golf course and other matters that are touched by environmental issues. He will make a good addition to the board.


JOHN BLUE - Blue is another long time member of the board, but is not a member of the machine. In fact, he's a frequent thorn in the side to President Mark Seigel and Vice President Cindy Cleghorn, as well as others. John may feel he means well, but he's not shown the emotional maturity - despite his chronological age to serve on the panel and be a team player. There is every bit of room for a loyal opposition but John's is not reasoned and at times, displays a slight paranoia and inappropriate behavior in meetings. Do not vote for John Blue.

CINDY CLEGHORN - This could be the most important vote you ever cast. While Cleghorn has a long volunteer resume and walls of awards at home, she has not shown that she has the temperament, personality nor character to serve at the high level of power and leadership she had secured for herself. In her time, the town has not prospered and has actually gotten worse. There are many questions about her leadership and her simultaneous role serving as President of the Chamber of Commerce is concerning. Do not, under any circumstance, vote for Cindy Cleghorn.


The following candidates have not supplied sufficient information for us to offer an opinion:  Patrick Daniel O’Brien, Jon Edward von Gunten, Julie Cuddihy Vicki Goorjian Pierce.


Region 1 - Kresse Armour, Jorge A. Martinez
Region 2 - Arsen Karamians, Arno Akobyan
Region 3 - Jim Moore, David Barron
Region 4 - Charlie Bradley, Maureen A. O'Byrne

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