Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring on Wednesday announced her bid for mayor at a news conference under one of Angel Stadium's giant team hats, saying that the current mayor is divisive and that she will bring unity to this fractured city.
The announcement formally confirmed what had been rumored for months — that the mayoral race would be a three-way contest among incumbent Tom Tait, former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway and Kring.
It also drew clear battle lines. Kring, who was surrounded by representatives of the Angels, Chamber of Commerce, other major business interests and the city's fire union, is undoubtedly the current establishment's favored candidate. Galloway's financial support will likely come from other labor groups.
Meanwhile, Tait will be banking on a wave of disaffection that has pervaded city politics since last year.
And it is that disaffection that Kring argued is at least partly the mayor's fault. Like Galloway, Kring has argued that Tait has failed to build consensus around important issues; has allowed council meetings to become hostile environments with opponents of council policies berating council members from the audience; and ha been disrespectful of staff publicly and privately.
After her announcement Wednesday, Kring pointed to Tait's public disputes with staff regarding the stadium negotiations, saying that he constantly interrupts them. Others say it is staff that has disrespected the mayor by openly battling with him over the fine points of the negotiations.
Cynthia Ward, a local blogger and Tait supporter, challenged Kring's claims regarding Tait's treament of staff, saying she “better have some sort of proof for that,” otherwise it is “ugly, unprofessional and uncalled for."
Kring said that she couldn't divulge specific examples of Tait disrespecting staff in private, citing confidentiality, but she she said “people on the seventh floor [where council and CEO offices are located] are not very happy.”
Kring also took issue with Tait's “two Anaheims” speech made at a state of the city address last year, saying that Tait has gone to great lengths to divide a city that is not split into two but is actually a “diverse” and “vibrant, interesting and creative city.”
“We need a mayor who unites, not divides,” Kring said. “I will be that mayor.”
Yet Kring's critics say that her attacks on Tait are unfair, and that Kring will can't be trusted as mayor given her flip-flopping on some of the city's most high-profile issues, like the $158-million hotel subsidy, civilian oversight of police, the Let The People Vote initiative and district specific council elections.
She also sent an email to her supporters stating that she never thought the city's mega-resort, Disneyland, “ran this city,” but that she changed her mind given the large amount of money Disney spent on the race. She said in a recent email she has since changed her mind again and discovered that Disney doesn't in fact run the city.
Kring justified her shifting stances, saying she changed her mind once she learned more about them. Regarding the hotel subsidy, she said its a better deal for the city.
Others have argued that she changed her positions only after Curt Pringle and other business interests helped her raise money to pay off personal campaign debt.
Some members of the business community that has supported her attended her news conference.
“I like her leadership when it comes to the business world,” said Denis Kuhl, chairman of Angels Baseball, which is negotiating a new stadium lease with the city.
Jim Ramirez, political director of the Anaheim Fire Association, said that Kring has shown support for public safety by, for example, voting for additional paramedic schooling. He is hoping that the next council will bring back two engine companies that have been eliminated in recent years.
“She's shown that public safety is a priority, and we respect and appreciate her for that,” Ramirez said.
Ward, meanwhile, said Tait that has done more than his predecessor in encouraging a more civil atmosphere at City Hall and that Kring hasn't shown leadership that would lead to more amicable council meetings.
Those arguments notwithstanding, critics of the council majority say that what has led to the discord are the council's policies of giving away taxpayer resources to major business interests. They say that the public's outrage is understandable — even expected — in light of the giveaways.
Regarding the perception that she flip-flops, Kring said that such an image didn't exist until “the press beat me up on it.”
When asked which Lucille Kring would show up for the mayor's seat, Dave Ellis, who is helping Kring with her campaign, responded, “the one that wins.”