Political portraits in the time of Covid take on a new dimension.
This is the Weekly staff photographer Parker Seibold, writing during an election season unlike any other.
Typically, when the Weekly editorial board’s endorsement process starts, the staff photographer joins the candidates and the editorial board in the conference room of our Seaside headquarters and photographs the candidates as they are interviewed.
But without the opportunity to gather in person and the interviews done via Zoom or email, I decided to take this as an opportunity to get creative and make this year’s endorsement issue look a little different than those in the past. I wanted the photos to do more than just put a face to a name with a headshot in a conference room setting.
So I asked each candidate to choose a place that represents who they are as an individual or as a candidate. I then asked them why they chose that place. Here’s what they had to say.
Jon Wizard, who is running for mayor of Seaside, is photographed on Lower Broadway in Seaside. He thought about going up Broadway and looking over the city, but says he didn’t want people to get the impression that he felt he was above the people: “I didn’t want people to think I was looking down on the city.”
With a lot of Seaside’s future growth slated for the former Fort Ord—Campus Town and Main Gate and the Nurses Barracks—he also wanted to show the potential to build up on Broadway. “This is the kind of development people want in Seaside. They want places like Other Brother Beer Co., which is an anchor. People want to come here, it gets them excited. It’s important that people have interaction and a sense of community.”
Weny Root Askew, who is running for county supervisor, asked to be photographed in Fort Ord Dunes State Park. It’s a place that reminds her that those who came before her fought for open spaces. She was raised in an Army family, and remembers coming here from the Mojave Desert to visit her grandparents in Carmel when she was young.
“We would drive over the hill on Highway 1 between Marina and Seaside, and my mom would point and say ‘Look girls!’ and point at the ocean.” She didn’t always appreciate it as a kid, but now she gets just as excited as her mom did and adds, “Now I do the same thing with my son.”
In Carmel, City Council candidate Karen Ferlito is photographed in her front yard. She lives in a wooded area that backs up to Mission Trail Nature Preserve. “I do a lot of work with the natural resources of Carmel so an outdoor photo would reflect who I am and what I do,” she says.
In Seaside, City Council candidate Tinisha Dunn asked to be photographed at Nation’s Market on Sonoma Avenue. It’s owned by the family of a close friend of hers who died in high school, so it is a way to honor them. “Nation's will always have a place in my heart,” she says.
It’s also the neighbrohood her dad grew up in, and where Dunn grew up playing in adjacent Capra Park. As she walks the city to campaign, she says she tells people her platform is to “put the people back in politics and the neighbor back in the hood.”
Kimbley Craig, a former member of Salinas City Council, is now running for mayor and asked to be photographed at Salinas City Hall. “This is where we made critical decisions to fund the El Gabilan Library, to pursue community policing and support hiring officers who are reflective of our community, and formulated a strategic plan for the future of Salinas,” she says.
In Pacific Grove, Chaps Poduri is a new American citizen who will be able to vote for the first time, and is also running for office for the first time. He’s pictured at the Point Pinos Lighthouse. “The world we live in is the ship, the pandemic is the turbulent waters we need to face and the lighthouse represents safe harbor,” he says.
Another city hall photo is of Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson. “I am grateful to live in one of the most historic cities in California,” he says. “As an elected official, Colton Hall and City Hall remind me of my duty, honor and privilege to serve the people of Monterey.”
The result is not just political portraits, but portraits of places that matter to our elected and aspiring leaders.
-Parker Seibold, staff photographer, email@example.com