Will Elk Grove's District 4 Race Go Negative or Just Be Filled With Buzzwords?

August 31, 2014 | As is typical in any political race, candidates promise to make their campaign an issues-oriented one.   Inevit...

August 31, 2014 |

As is typical in any political race, candidates promise to make their campaign an issues-oriented one.  

Inevitably though there comes a point, especially in local elections, that issues, if they were ever addressed to start with, are put on the back burner and two other time-tested tactics surface. We are of course are speaking of the the omnipresent mailer and negative attacks.  

For candidates with enough money, the one certainly is the use of mailers. We have all seen them fill our mailboxes in the days leading up to an election.

It is at that point where candidates reach out to the mass of citizens who vote, but really don't keep a close eye on issues and turn their campaign into a series of buzzwords. We have all seen buzzwords like transparency, integrity, accountability, leadership, etc., thrown around like dice at a crap table. 

The second thing that can occur are the negative attacks, which Elk Grove politics has not been immune from. This tactic has been used effectively by several current and past Elk Grove City Council Members.

In the District 4 race, two of the candidates are unlikely to be subjected to negative attacks. Daniel Jimenez and Nayyar Sarfaraz have never held public office by appointment or election and unless they flood the area mailboxes, are unlikely to be subjected to them.

Even though Jimenez and Sarfaraz are the presumed underdogs at this point, they could both prove to be spoilers in the race. Furthermore, while they may not be subjected  to attacks mailers, they could attack one or both of the two other candidates.

Which brings us to Nancy Chaires and Steve Ly, both of who could be attacked with negative mailers.

For Chaires, the most obvious way she could be attacked by one of her opponents, or an independent expenditure committee, is the hundreds of votes she has cast since 2007 as an Elk Grove Planning Commissioner. It might be noted that Chaires' fellow planning commissioner George Murphey was subjected to this in his 2010 race against Elk Grove Council Member Pat Hume.

On the Saturday before that election, a postcard sent on behalf of Hume appeared in the mailboxes of members of Elk Grove Roman Catholic parishes. Chaires, like Murphey, had voted against the Diocese of Sacramento and  St. Maria Goretti's application to build their parish facility on Bradshaw Road in Elk Grove's rural district.

It is hard to quantify what effect this may have had on Hume's ultimate victory over Muphey, but it certainly didn't help hurt Hume. For many people of faith in the community who vote at an arms-length from issues, this postcard may have been enough to tilt their vote to Hume.

So will Ly, or an independent committee target faith-based voters in Elk Grove over Chaires' against St Maria Goretti? And if so, will the attack come at the last minute?

Likewise, Ly can be attacked from any of his three opponents over votes during his two years as a Trustee on the Elk Grove Unified School District. Given Ly has not cast any controversial votes is his short time as a trustee, the more likely scenario is that he will be attacked for leaving his halfway though his first four year term.

Politically this would be a trickier move for Chaires to handle, but there are ways it could be used. The most likely scenario would be that an independent group send mailers attacking Ly for not completing his term as a trustee or being a  political opportunist and abandoning his commitment. 

Furthermore, this narrative is already being discussed in Elk Grove political circles, so Ly needs to effectively explain why he is willing to abandon a seat he was elected to two years ago. This is a question he needs to clearly articulate for opinion makers in Elk Grove who can influence friends and family, which in a close four way race,  may be the difference between defeat or victory. 

Chaires, likewise would be well-served to again get in front of St. Marie Goretti issue now rather than later. It is not a hard thing to communicate, but by addressing it now, she can put it to rest should it pop up in late October.  

Of course Chaires and Ly might calculate negative attacks could be a zero-sum game and instead rely on the time-tested method for winning office in Elk Grove - flooding mail boxes with mailers filled with buzzwords.

See presentations from Chaires and Ly recorded last March in front of the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club.

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Didn't Fool This Catholic said...

This mailer is as offensive today and it was back then. Exploiting the Catholic voter like this! Most would think it came directly from the Catholic Church and there is a law or two against doing just that. There was fine line crossed here, and with the new order of the Catholic Church, I wonder what the Church’s leaders would say today if a similar mailer was sent out.

“Churches are also prevented from directly interfering with how the government operates in that they cannot endorse any political candidates, they cannot campaign on behalf of any candidates, and they cannot attack any political candidate such that the effectively endorse that person’s opponent.

What this means is that charitable and religious organizations which receive a 501(c)(3) tax exemption have a clear and simple choice to make: they can engage in religious activities and retain their exemption, or they can engage in political activity and lose it, but they cannot engage in political activity and retain their exemption.”

Anonymous said...

How true and this mailer should be an embarrassment to those who signed it and those who endorsed the mailing. I didn't receive the mailer, but heard of it and seeing it here gives me the chills.

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