By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World
On Sept. 10, 2015, I received a developer’s glossy mailer, urging me not to sign a petition to vote on his City Council-approved plan to build a shopping mall next to the city’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon. The five beaming faces of Carlsbad’s mayor and city council appeared above the headline: DON’T SIGN THE PETITION. A handy Signature Withdrawal Request card, addressed to City Hall, was attached, in case I’d already signed it. That was the day I decided not one of those elected officials deserved my vote in the next election.
Unfortunately, there are only two open seats on the November 8 ballot. The incumbents needing replacement this year are Keith Blackburn and Lorraine Wood. Check out their campaign websites here: Blackburn and Wood. You’ll find the two say nothing about the need to regain the trust of the community.
Wood says she is, “dedicated to supporting the Village and the Village Master Plan because this special place is truly the heart of the community.”
After taking credit for supporting it, Blackburn praises the Desalination Project for “assuming responsibility as the Agua Hedionda Lagoon’s steward,” despite his attempt to surrender its stewardship to an L.A. real estate billionaire.
Wood and Blackburn are apparently satisfied with business as usual at City Hall, neither addressing the challenging issues facing the city on its way to build-out.
The four challengers are Ann Tanner, Cori Schumacher, Bill Fowler and Brandon Rowley.
Carlsbadians get to vote for two of the six. Incumbents benefit from at-large elections, with the most name recognition and number of previous supporters. Challengers are likely to split the votes of the disgruntled.
The September surprise in this election is Melanie Burkholder’s withdrawal from the race on September 28, too late for her name to be removed from the ballot. She’s the only candidate to list her party affiliation as “Republican” on the form she filed for this non-partisan office.
Blackburn and Wood report $100 payments from their campaigns for membership in the San Diego County GOP. Wood added an additional $360 for Carlsbad Republican Women Federated. Its satellite club, “Happy Hour Politics,” was launched by Burkholder in 2014.
Conspiracy theorists might say Burkholder’s candidacy was intended to benefit the two incumbents from the start, by drawing votes away from the four other challengers.
On October 12, two weeks after she had already dropped out of the race, the Oside Newscarried an Op-Ed Editorial announcing the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC endorsement of Burkholder. In a close race, the number of votes mistakenly cast for her could decide the election.
I’ll be voting for Tanner and Schumacher (no relation to current Councilmember Michael Schumacher). I made my decision based on what I’ve learned about them in print, social media, streamed video of City Council meetings, and their campaign platforms. Click on their names below for links to their websites.
Ann Tanner, elected to the Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees in 2010, served as president in 2014. During her four years on the board she had to address the divisive issues of balancing budgets, coping with funding cuts, and seeking consensus within the divergent views of her constituents.
I was impressed by Tanner’s experience as an elected official and the comprehensiveness and specific priorities in her platform.
- Require fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and prudent reserves. Deal with the city’s $450 million unfunded pension liability by beginning now to fund pensions at 100 percent.
- Develop support for entrepreneurs, small businesses and emerging technologies, making clean, high tech and research/development businesses a priority.
- Restore trust and accountability in city government by giving all constituents equal access, providing explanations of all city council votes, and shining a light on campaign contributors’ specific agendas.
- Seek public opinion from all, not just “those who matter,” about what to do when the land occupied by the Encina Power Plant is vacated, preferring it to be zoned Open Space for all to enjoy.
- Return the 48-acre site near the lagoon to TR (Tourist Recreation) zoning, allowing green space for country trails, birding, lookout points, and picnic areas.
- Reduce building height limit in Village/Barrio Plan back to 35 feet. Make the village walkable and bikeable.
Cori Schumacher, a charismatic leader in the campaign that stopped a developer from polluting a pristine landscape surrounding a city lagoon, she impressed me with her speeches about what was wrong with the developer’s project. While the issue drew passionate feelings from both sides, Schumacher relied on facts, not emotions, to make her case.
As does Tanner, Schumacher goes beyond generalizations in describing her priorities.
- Stop the Council’s reliance on the seasonal and unpredictable tourism and hospitality industry. Instead, attract and retain the talent and businesses of the over $250 billion global clean tech industry.
- Give voters, not developers, control over land use matters.
- Amend the city’s Growth Management Plan to define what amount of growth per 3-5 years is acceptable to decrease the impact of simultaneous, large scale developments.
- Develop more creative and active methods of engaging residents, listening to them, rather than developers and real estate investors, to make decisions for our community.
- Restore confidence in the competency and integrity of local government, with more openness, transparency and accountability.
- 6. Support a transition in Carlsbad to 100% renewable energy by 2035 by allowing residents more choices of energy providers through Community Choice Energy (e.g. See here for Q&A link for Sonoma Clean Power).
Bill Fowler says his reason for running is to stand up to a bully, the current City Council, promising, “I am ready to lead our great small city into a future where we protect our life style, protect our environment, keep our streets safe and have a City Council that listens to our citizens.”
Those are excellent goals, but his platform and public comments are aimed mostly at attacking the Council, falling short of the vision of city growth and development described by Tanner and Schumacher.
Brandon Rowley, a 23 year-old recent graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obisbo and San Diego Zoo employee, says he’s running for office to “energize and empower young adults to become actively engaged in local government…and bring merit to the idea that younger voters matter in politics.”
That’s a worthy goal, especially in a city with a history of electing officials of a certain age only. Although Rowley’s leadership experience falls short of my top two candidates, I hope he continues to be engaged in local politics. Both his resume and platform are impressive.
Business as usual is no longer acceptable in Carlsbad politics. Ann Tanner and Cori Schumacher have the experience, integrity and talent to begin replacing the elected officials who’ve been ignoring the best interests of their constituents.
Thanks for sharing your views and backing up your endorsements with specific reasons. If only we had a similar opportunity to evaluate specific plans and programs proposed by both candidates running for President instead of the clusterf–k that has been foisted upon us. Agree with your endorsements. Local elections are just as significant if not more so than national ones.
Tom Applegate says
I am voting for Wood and Blackburn for Carlsbad City Council.
Fred Lagrange says
I wish you would detailed your reason to vote for these two incumbents. I could not agree more with Richard Riehl’s article. The total disrespect of the citizen of Carslbard’s opiniom regarding measure A is unforgivable. That 5 out 5 council members agreed on the lagoon development project is also not Kosher to say the least.
Look underneath at the council statement. It could come from the minutes of the China Communist Party politburo meeting!
Source: San Diego Tribune – Article of Feb 27, 2017 by Logan Jenkins: “what went wrong in Carlsbad?”
Here’s the patronizing argument expressed unanimously by the council last summer :
We and city staff in our infinite wisdom have studied this project and, believe us, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. This developer bent over backward to conform to our high standards. The initiative allowing Caruso to skirt nettlesome CEQA regulations was a practical move to save time and expense from lawsuits. For the same reason, we’re going to approve it outright. Why bother with a public vote when the outcome is assured?
Brian McInerny says
I am grateful that someone is willing to help make things better in Carlsbad. Richard with his journalistic contribution and the challengers running against the entrenched incumbents. I see someone commented that they are voting for Blackburn and Wood. I support their right to vote. They give no reason for their decision. I am voting for Cori and Ann because it is time to have someone on the council who listens to the voters. Even after the 85/15 was voted down by their own constituents Wood and Blackburn still support the plan. They never acknowledged the deception on every page of the Caruso Initiative. They backed the 397 page law that promised a vote by the voters. This was denied. They spent $600,000+ on a vote that proved they were wrong. That was a high price to pay. Still no recognition by the council that what they did was wrong. It is a shame to run a city this way.
Lowell Burton says
I am voting for ANYONE BUT Blackburn and Wood. They have demonstrated that they have no regard for ordinary citizens. They have proven that they have neither the intellect nor the integrity that holding public office OUGHT to require. A perusal of their campaign finance disclosures indicates that most of their backing comes from developers, real estate people, or established Republican committees that see fit to lie and cast aspersions on the character of other candidates. It’s time for a change, and a POSITIVE change. I second Brian’s thoughts. My entire household will be voting for ANYONE BUT Blackburn and Wood. Cori and Ann seem to fit that description and have shown through both actions and words that they are what Carlsbad needs to move forward in the right direction (right meaning correct, NOT on the political spectrum!)
As if on cue, today’s mail shows how low Blackburn and Wood can sink. Their “helpers” (Lincoln Club of SD) had to commit fraud by obscuring the full entry for a campaign donation made to Cori Schumacher from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union in order to make it appear as something nefarious, as if she were being bought by “outside interests.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Just look who’s supporting the incumbents…and no need to doctor the evidence either.
Patricia Amador says
Walking precincts today in Carlsbad. Several citizens were shocked to receive the mailer from said “club” against a local candidate. They wondered what had brought our community to this level yet understand outside interests at work here. People are awake and no longer can be fooled – again.
The mailer smearing Schumacher declared it was “Paid for by Job Creators for a Stronger Economy,” together with the disclaimer that the ad “was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office…” But Blackburn’s most recent campaign funding filing form 496 reports his campaign paid $3,712 on Oct.12 to Job Creators for a “mailer.” Just sayin’
The Lincoln Club of San Diego ought to change its name to the Nixon Club. Their latest mailer attempting to smear Carlsbad City Council candidate Cori Schumacher fraudulently misidentifies one of her campaign donors by omitting the actual name of the donor (Electrical Workers Local Union) then claiming she is being backed by “big money outside interests.” Such underhanded tactics are worthy of Tricky Dick himself. “Honest” Abe, on the other hand, would be ashamed.