The biggest challenge facing the super-sized field of 14 candidates running for two city council seats in Anaheim is simply making sure voters remember their name.
Lawn signs are plastered everywhere by candidates who can afford them, and some even have the resources to send out at least one mailer.
But in a city with 350,000 residents and no signature issue to rally voters, many of those seeking to join the five-member council are riding the top national campaign issue, vowing to create jobs. Yet they offer few specifics on how they could accomplish that from a city council dais.
Another recurrent theme is support for additional police and firefighters.
But as veteran Orange County political consultant Eileen Padberg observed, when a field of candidates is that large, a candidate’s biggest political assets are name recognition and where that name appears on the ballot.
That means, she said, the advantage lies with “whoever’s done the most mail.”
And, she warns, “if you’ve done a lot of negative mail, I don’t think it’s going to work this year.”
Negative mail happens in every campaign, but Padberg said voters appear exceptionally turned off by it this year.
Mailers are expensive, costing $25,000 to $30,000 each, at least in Anaheim, according to several candidates.
Two contenders who can afford that and more are Gail Eastman and Kris Murray. Both are backed by the Chamber of Commerce and Save Our Anaheim Resort, a coalition of interests in the area around Disneyland.
Eastman, a former city planning commissioner who lives in the city’s historic district, has raised $24,265.00 so far this year of her own.
But the Chamber of Commerce also expects to spend roughly $90,000 supporting Eastman, Murray and mayoral candidate Tom Tait, said chamber President Todd Ament. Murray serves on the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee.
In addition to her backing from the Chamber, Murray’s campaign reports that it raised $83,687.88 so far this year with another $1,000 coming in this week from outgoing Mayor Curt Pringle.
Murray is a founding member of S.O.A.R., has served on the Anaheim Public Utilities Board and Metropolitan Water District and works for the Orange County Transportation Authority, where, as executive director of government relations, she oversees the work of the agency’s lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington.
John Leos, a deputy juvenile corrections officer for the county probation department, is the council candidate endorsed by the Anaheim Municipal Employees Association and the Orange County Employees Association, said OCEA labor relations representative Tim Steed.
Leos’ campaign has reported raising $27,650 this year, and Steed said labor will also send mailers on his behalf.
Political newcomer Bill Dalati, through his insurance agency, lent his campaign $75,000. In his statement to voters, he says through his insurance work he has helped 70 small businesses get started in Anaheim.