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Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman have won Anaheim City Council seats, which means the council’s big business-friendly majority remains in tact.
Kring topped all candidates with 19.4 percent of the vote, while Brandman came in second with 19.2 percent. Former labor leader John Leos came in third with 13.9 percent of the vote.
Kring, a former councilwoman, and Brandman, an Anaheim Union High School Trustee, are from two competing council candidates slates.
Nine candidates were vying for two open seats left by termed out council members Lorri Galloway and Harry Sidhu. Mayor Tom Tait backed Kring and Leos, while and former Mayor Curt Pringle supported Brandman and Hill International Director of Public Affairs Steve Chavez Lodge.
Brandman and Chavez Lodge also benefited from heavy spending by political action committees financed by business interests, especially the Disneyland Resort, and were backed by the city’s public safety unions. A public employee union-financed committee supporting Leos matched the business PACs nearly dollar-for-dollar.
Collective relief and joy overwhelmed the Brandman election party, which was held at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. By electing him, the voters “have said we want to move Anaheim forward,” Brandman told cheering supporters.
“We need to make sure every neighborhood in Anaheim has the representation it so richly deserves,” Brandman said.
Leos, meanwhile, said that running against a well-entrenched establishment was a challenging task, particularly when it came to raising money for his campaign.
“I was going against the very powerful, the very well connected in Anaheim,” Leos said. “That’s a tough battle.”
Leos also said that, while the Orange County Employees Association and other public employees unions funded a pro-Leos committee that nearly matched the business lobbyists’ spending, the mailers promoting Leos disclosed that OCEA was primarily funding the PAC, possibly hampering their effectiveness.
Disney’s money in the race – which topped $360,000 – was less transparent. The resort funneled cash through Several PACs that supported Brandman and Chavez Lodge, such as the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce PAC and the Orange County Business Council BIZ PAC, and sent mailers attacking Leos and Kring.
“Definitely a certain part of Anaheim doesn’t like anything to do with the unions,” Leos said. “If people knew the corporate interests I was going up against, I think I would be the top vote-getter.”
The pro-Leos PAC disclosed OCEA in its name because, under the state’s campaign finance laws, when a PAC is primarily finance by a single entity, the fact must be disclosed on mailers.
OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino said that he wouldn’t in the future take Disney’s approach to campaign finance.
“We’re not going to wash money. That is very deceptive,” Berardino said.
Berardino, like Leos, said that challenging the political establishment proved a major challenge.
“That’s taking on a well-entrenched power-structure controlled by Disney. It’s a multi-national corporation… it’s always tough. But they’ve never seen a fight like they had,” Berardino said.
Going forward, Berardino said that he will wait and see if the new council is willing to work with OCEA, which is the parent association to Anaheim’s general employees union. “We’re hoping we can work together, but if not, we’ll be back,” he said.
The council race was considered high-stakes for City Hall watchers, some of whom have described it as the most important council election in recent memory.
The Tait slate will likely back a ballot measure to require that hotel tax subsidies go to citywide votes, an issue that divided the current council in January. The Pringle-backed slate has opposed the measure. Also, the new council will decide whether to implement council-districts to replace the city’s at-large council election system.
Other critical issues include a possible civilian police oversight commission in the wake of fatal police shootings that sparked a downtown riot and weeks of public unrest in the city.