Sunrise at Seal Beach, where the mayor and a city councilmember are running unopposed this November (photo: hold it,I’m focusing/Flickr)
The November elections are still two and a half months away, but we can already call the winners of a handful of local races in two Southern California cities.
How can this be, you ask? For the first time, the city of Seal Beach will not have a local election because there are no challengers who stepped up to the plate against the incumbents.
Mayor Pro Tem Gary Miller and councilmember David Sloan, both elected in 2008, will hold their seats on the city council for at least one more term. The council will vote on cancelling the election at their next meeting.
City Manager Linda Devine told the OC Register, “I don’t recall this happening before.”
Seal Beach has a lot of major projects the council will be voting on, so the uncontested seats are quite surprising.
One big project is the proposed expansion of the I-405 Freeway. Residents are worried about the noise, pollution and the potential to bring more commuters and traffic in that area.
There’s also a development project that will create a new subdivision.
Rossmoor, a nearby unincorporated community, will also pass on a local election. Directors Ron Casey, Michael Maynard and Jeffrey Rips will all get to serve another four year term each on the Rossmoor Community Services District Board.
Residents there have one major issue in front of them–who will govern their community. Orange County wants to get rid of the unincorporated island and have a nearby city absorb them. The city of Los Alamitos has shown some interest, but Rossmoor residents rejected that idea.
“I’d like to think residents are satisfied with the people in office,” Henry Taboada, general manager for the Rossmoor Community Services District told the OC Register. “Some people in the community say we need change, but that hasn’t been an organized effort.”
These two areas aren’t alone, this appears to be an alarming trend in local governments throughout our state, where no one decides to challenge incumbents even though many people are dissatisfied with the status quo.
David Crane, President of Govern for California and lecturer at Stanford University, offers his thoughts.
“Call me an optimist but more people, especially in a California open primary world and redistricting world, more people know if they run they might have a chance to win and if we can get more of the electorate to pay attention–if they start paying attention and good people run we’re gonna elect better people. They can address these problem because these problems are solvable,” said Crane.
How do we get people to pay attention? Crane said better candidates need to step up.
“We’ve got to have more charismatic candidates somebody who’s very charismatic, people would pay attention to that person but also in these local jurisdictions who have suffered the consequences of unaddressed problems where they see services for citizens being cut to the bare bones and the problem is not being addressed, people then start to pay attention to people running for those offices. And some of those mayors are starting to stand out and more people are paying attention. So you need a combo of charisma and you need people to really feel the pain from these things that are happening and get a little upset.”