The Weekly's endorsement for the Seaside City Council special election.
Thursday, June 3, 1999
Whoever fills the vacant seat in this Tuesday's special election has his work cut out for him.
At a time when the city of Seaside is being called upon to look to the future and make some hard choices, the city is still being hobbled by the political infighting, backstabbing and bickering that have been the city's hallmark for the last decade. Whatever other contributions the new City Council member may make to the community, perhaps his most important job will be to avoid getting entangled in the vicious net of Seaside politics.
If we had our preferences, there would be a strong, independent, well-informed candidate running in this election. The truth is, that candidate is not running. Each of the three men in contention for the seat comes with the taint of political connections to either the current or past administrations. Instead of looking for the independent, strong candidate that Seaside so desperately needs, the search must be confined to a hunt for the candidate who will help Seaside move forward while causing the least amount of damage to Seaside's image or future.
For this reason, we endorse candidate Steve Bloomer.
Bloomer has acknowledged that people from Seaside Mayor Jerry Smith's camp encouraged him to run for the council seat, and Bloomer is being handled by Smith's former campaign manager Brian Pratt. Although Smith has repeatedly denied supporting any particular candidate, we feel that Bloomer's connections are readily apparent. And that's the bad news: More behind-the-scenes political maneuvering at a time when Seaside's factionalism needs to be eradicated. But there is good news.
We supported Smith's candidacy for mayor in 1998 because he promised more open government, and a desire to re-examine many of the deals and contracts that had been cut by the previous administration. We have been impressed by Smith's attempts in those regards, and feel that with an ally on the council that these goals may be more efficiently accomplished. We also feel that Bloomer's experience on the Planning Commission should stand him and the city in good stead during this special one-year term.
On the other hand, we were dismayed at the lack of specific knowledge that Bloomer brought to the campaign, and we urge the candidate to start "cramming" information as quickly as possible.
As regards to knowledge of Seaside and the projects facing the city, former mayor Lance McClair was clearly the most informed and savvy of the candidates. Running on a platform that stresses an open and stable government in Seaside, McClair makes a persuasive argument for why he should be elected to the seat. Unfortunately, we remember back to the end of McClair's tenure as mayor, to a time when city hall was the antithesis of "open and stable."
Political newcomer Luther Hert is an enigma. Although Hert denies any political connections with the past administration, we find it interesting that former mayor Don Jordan, former council member Helen Rucker, and former city manager Tim Brown all support him. We also find it intriguing that candidate Lisa Mitchell, who dropped out of this race, threw her support to Hert--when Mitchell ran for the office in '98, she ran as a supporter of the Jordan administration. By accepting the support of such politicized figures--either deliberately or navely--Hert has compromised his own ability to be seen as an independent voice for Seaside.