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Bloopers of the City Council race so far

By: Carol Feineman - Editor Lincoln News Messenger
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I take the City Council election very seriously. It should be as serious to all nine candidates. But from what I see, a few candidates are not treating the race as diligently as they should a month since the council race began Aug. 15. If they want to win one of the three seats that will be decided in the Nov. 6 election, they should play by the “rules.” A case in point is candidate David Kawas’ e-mail I received Sept. 12 about running a letter to the editor he wrote. At first glance, this sounds like no big deal because I encourage candidates to submit letters up to 300 words once a month. However, Kawas’ first letter ran Aug. 30, just two weeks before. Kawas prefaced his Sept. 12 e-mail with, “… I have another letter to the editor for next week. I know four weeks haven’t passed, but I hope you can print it anyway. It is 310 words. Let me know if 300 is a must and I’ll cut it down.” His comments were wrong on several levels – he wanted me to run three letters within a four-week period, which he knew we don’t do, while acknowledging he was 10 words over the limit. Kawas wanted us to make exceptions to our rules. And what was the urgency of the Sept. 12 letter? There was no urgency – the entire letter ridiculed fellow candidate and current Mayor, Spencer Short. An instance in which two candidates were apathetic involved our front-page question and answer feature on several city issues. We gave the candidates 10 days to answer the questions. Council members must meet all deadlines given to them. All but Cuenca and Glaser sent in their answers on time. Cuenca and Glaser called us Sept. 18 to see when the answers were due. They had misplaced the e-mailed questions and deadline. When told their answers won’t run since deadline was missed, Cuenca said that was OK and Glaser said it was better that he didn’t answer the questions. The most recent blooper focuses on the Oct. 11 candidate forum. We e-mailed an invitation to council candidates Sept. 13 to join a forum cosponsored by the League of Women Voters and The News Messenger. That forum from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lincoln High School is the last of four settings in which candidates publicly express their views. A week later, five candidates had not confirmed their attendance. Only Cuenca, Peter Gilbert, Candi Schipper and Short immediately said they would participate. The News Messenger sent another e-mail Sept. 20 to the five non-responding candidates and Paul Joiner and Kawas confirmed they would participate. But Dan Cross, Glaser and Christine Colvin did not reply to the second e-mail. Candidates shouldn’t be so nonchalant about participating in the forum since it’s a way to earn votes. The News Messenger also shouldn’t be their “babysitter.” The candidates should treat the election process as a full-time job. Otherwise, they have no one to blame but themselves if they lose. The council candidates’ election paperwork is available for public viewing at the City Manager’s office in City Hall. While looking at their paperwork, I saw that six hopefuls signed the Code of Fair Campaign Practices while three, Cuenca, Glaser and Kawas, had not signed it. The Code of Fair Campaign Practices’ purpose, according to its general intent, is “to give voters guidelines in determining fair play and to encourage candidates to discuss issues instead of untruths or distortions.” The code relies on common-sense principles, such as “1) I shall conduct my campaign openly and publicly, discussing the issues as I see them, presenting my record and policies with sincerity and frankness, and criticizing without fear or favor the record and policies of my opponents or political parties that merit this criticism” and “2) I shall not use or permit the use of character defamation, whispering campaigns, libel, slander or scurrilous attacks on any candidate or his or her personal or family life.” It’s ironic that Kawas ignored the second principle with his Sept. 12 letter to the editor. The city of Lincoln’s record coordinator Dia Gix said she advised all candidates about the code. Although signing it is optional, Dix said, the California Legislature “expects candidates to abide by these standards of conduct.” Most candidates sign the code, according to Placer County Assistant Registrar of Voters Ryan Ronco. “Seventy-five to 90 percent of candidates sign the Code of Fair Campaign Practices,” Ronco said. “In every election, there’s a significant majority that will sign the code. Conversely, a few candidates don’t sign the voluntary form. The legislature created the form and demands that we distribute the form to candidates. It is optional but candidates are bound by law to run their campaigns in a certain manner.” I e-mailed Cuenca, Glaser and Kawas to ask why they didn’t sign the code. Cuenca e-mailed back with “I did not sign the Code of Fair Campaign Practices because I am already personally bound to live my life ethically and this includes how I run my campaign.” Glaser did not respond by deadline. Kawas e-mailed back with “I fully support the spirit of the California Code of Fair Campaign Practices but do not believe the government has a role in policing political speech. Additionally, I am personally bound to conduct my campaign in an honest and appropriate manner, and I expect the same of others regardless if they signed the pledge or not.” I admire all nine candidates for entering the race. It’s not easy to run when others criticize them. But candidates can not play by their own rules. The public demands that all elected officials play by the same rules. The race indicates how candidates will act if elected to office. So far, a few candidates are blowing their chances. Carol Feineman can be reached at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com