Trump-Style Politics Infects a Local Race

Frank, please, stop talking.”
- Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem to Santa Clarita Councilman Frank Ferry

While serving on the Santa Clarita City Council, Republican Frank Ferry was known for occasionally losing “his temper, once labeling residents opposed to growth ‘developmental terrorists.’” At another meeting, he called a constituent a “liar” after she accused him of submitting an address that was not within the boundaries of the city. During an outburst that resulted in forcing the meeting into recess, he stated that he had “not submitted an application to the state bar of California.” He reiterated that he “had not applied to the state bar, [he had] not given them an application.” Just weeks earlier he had told the local paper that he had “submitted paperwork to activate [his] license”.

Wherever he was living at the time of the confrontation, Ferry is now running for office from an address in a different jurisdiction. He is seeking to replace Mitch Englander, who left his office for a private sector job in the middle of his term. Ferry’s campaign is chaired by a former congressman who was considered to be “corporate-friendly” and whose “significant legislative accomplishments involve the transfer of huge amounts of taxpayer money to quasi-private entities that are then liberated from government oversight.” Like the head of his party, his style of campaigning involves using narratives that are detached from reality, play to the worst aspects of human nature and rely on personal attacks.

As an example, consider the latest hit piece mailed by the Ferry campaign. The flyer declares that “The Big Bang Theory is for TV. We don’t need another (emphasis mine) far out scientist.” While I was not aware that we had a preponderance of scientists in public service, Ferry seems to think that there are too many Doc Brown types in the Los Angeles Council Chambers. Or is he just playing to the Trump base and their distrust of those who pursued higher education? Perhaps “far out scientist” is Ferry’s attempt at mimicking Trump’s “creative” nicknames — Sleepy Joe, Pocahontas, the Far Out Scientist.

The attack is aimed at Dr. Loraine Lundquist, a climate scientist who is on the faculty of Cal State Northridge. Interestingly, Ferry’s mailer consistently uses the wrong title for Lundquist, substituting “Prof.” for “Dr.”, apparently in an attempt to emphasize that “the North Valley should not be another liberal classroom.” God forbid we should have anyone on the City Council that would seek to impart knowledge to other people.

Ironically, it seems that it is Ferry that could use some time in Lundquist’s classroom. He attacks Lundquist’s support of “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s [SIC] Green New Deal that wants to provide handouts and the eventual elimination of airplanes to reduce emissions. [emphasis mine]” Ferry is echoing Republican Senator Rick Scott who made the bizarre claim that the Green New Deal would require us to “tear down all buildings, eliminate oil and gas, and stop air travel”. However, the actual resolution “makes no mention of airplanes at all.” Instead, it calls for “overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible.

Ferry continues the theme while discussing improving infrastructure for cars when he “accuses” her of wanting “us to ride bikes and use fewer roads.” First, it is hard to see the downside, either for our bulging waistlines or our climate if we were to use more people-powered transportation methods. In fact, Lundquist leads by example and often bikes around our neighborhoods. Second, the claim that she wants “fewer roads” is as silly as it is counter-productive. Reducing the number of roads would result in more smog-producing traffic jams and would also limit the places where buses and bicycles could travel.

While Ferry would like to pretend that “Lundquist studies climate change but has never organized a community coalition to resolve an environmental problem”, she is actually an activist who was heavily involved during the gas blowout at the Southern California Gas Company facility in Porter Ranch. Perhaps Ferry did not realize this because Lundquist’s motivations are focused on solving problems rather than feeding her own ego. In comparison, the former councilman seems to single-handedly take credit for stopping “Elsmere Canyon…and [blocking] the Cemex Mine in north Los Angeles County.”

Trump’s anti-immigrant theme is also hit on as Ferry attacks Lundquist for supporting “Sanctuary Laws which allow criminal aliens to remain in the city.” However, it is Ferry’s position that threatens to increase violent crime. “Criminals understand that [when police are viewed as immigration authorities, it creates a haven for criminals to prey upon immigrants who are afraid to report crimes to police], and they will feel emboldened to commit crimes against the immigrant community without fear of being held accountable because they know they won’t call police,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. “It creates a haven for crime.

When it comes to the homeless crisis, Ferry emulates Trump’s lack of empathy for the less fortunate in society. While he condemns Lundquist for believing that “we have homeless because of a lack of affordable housing”, he offers no alternative explanations or solutions. Instead, he says that “we must prevent homeless from living on the streets and in our neighborhoods because of public safety and health issues.” He does not seem to care how much the homeless suffer as long as they are out of sight.

The most agreeable statement in Ferry’s flyer is that “our choice is clear” in the election on June 4. The president that we have in the White House has already caused enough damage and embarrassment to our country, and we do not need another one in the City Council Chambers. A vote for anyone else in this election will send a signal that we need leaders who will engage in thoughtful dialogue, not personal attacks. I will be casting mine for Dr, Loraine Lundquist.

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Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.