January 18, 2003 - Los Angeles Times: Peace Corps Director Vasquez endorses "the machine" in Orange County political race

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, January 18, 2003 - 10:15 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Director Vasquez endorses "the machine" in Orange County political race

Read and comment on this story from the Los Angeles Times on the special election in Orange County and Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez's endorsement for Supervisor in Orange County's 3rd District. In last November's election, Vasquez endorsed Roger Stanton, his fellow County Supervisor who resigned in disgrace during Orange County's 1995 bankruptcy. Now Vasquez is endorsing Assemblyman Bill Campbell, dubbed "the machine" by his opponents, for County Supervisor.

The Peace Corps has earned goodwill and respect over the past 40 years through the unselfish actions of 160,000 Returned Volunteers. We believe that it is inappropriate for the Director of the United States Peace Corps to use the prominence of his appointed position to get involved in Orange County's local politics. Other appointees who represent the United States on the world stage like Secretary of State Colin Powell or UN Ambassador John Negroponte don't demean the dignity of their offices by acting like political ward heelers. The Director should not misuse the Peace Corps' prestige by making political endorsements that have nothing to do with the mission of the agency. Read the story at:

5 Run Though Election in O.C. Still Iffy*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

5 Run Though Election in O.C. Still Iffy

Supervisor candidates range from former lawmaker to postal worker with no political experience. Judge may still cancel vote.

By Seema Mehta, Times Staff Writer

Five men are spending nearly a quarter-million dollars and countless hours campaigning to become Orange County's 3rd District supervisor.

Despite all the money and effort, it's uncertain if the Jan. 28 special election to fill the vacant seat will take place. And neither candidates nor voters will know until three days before that date -- at the earliest.

The candidates vying to represent 600,000 people in a district stretching from the rustic canyons in the Santa Ana Mountains to the master-planned communities in Irvine range from a postal worker with no political experience to a termed-out state assemblyman dubbed "the machine" by his opponents.

They are seeking to fill the seat Todd Spitzer vacated when he was elected to the state Assembly late last year.

Constitutionality of the election is being challenged in court

The election was made possible by Measure V, a voter-approved initiative that called for vacant supervisorial seats to be filled by elections rather than by the governor. But the constitutionality of the measure is being challenged in court.

A trial is set to begin in Judge Andrew P. Banks' courtroom Tuesday.

The trial is expected to last a few days, with closing arguments scheduled Friday. Banks has said he would decide over the weekend, meaning the soonest anyone would know if the election will proceed is Saturday -- three days before the polls would open.

"The Machine"

Former Assemblyman Bill Campbell has raised $230,000 and has been endorsed by dozens of officials, including Sheriff Mike Carona, supervisors Tom Wilson and Jim Silva, and Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Campbell has lined up scores of volunteers to go door to door the weekend before the election, and his mailers show Campbell alongside President Bush.

"I enjoy public office for two reasons: It's intellectually stimulating [and] you can really help people," said Campbell, a former Taco Bell franchisee. "You act as an expediter between the bureaucracy and people when things don't work. You can do that in a bigger fashion here at the county."

Campbell, 60, said among his biggest concerns is the fiscal mismanagement in the planning department that led to a fifth of its staff being laid off. "When you see one of these, the concern is there may be others. It's a serious red flag that you're out of control," he said.

He supports the completion of the Foothill South toll road in South County but has serious doubts about the CenterLine light-rail project planned for the central county.

Instead, Campbell favors increased bus service. He also said he supports the Foothill-Trabuco Specific Plan, which limits development in the canyons, but he would have voted to approve the Saddleback Meadows development opposed by some environmentalists.

Critics said Measure V was a ploy by Spitzer and Campbell to allow them to play musical chairs, charges they deny.

"I assure you, there was no commitment between Todd and me at any time," Campbell said, noting that Spitzer didn't endorse him until less than two months ago.

Other Candidates

Candidate Jim Potts, an Irvine police officer, had sworn off politics after 10 years on the Tustin City Council. But then he received a mailer promoting Campbell for the board seat. He was incensed.

"Everyone and his brother had endorsed him.... It's typical of what happens," he said. "You're anointed to that position. It's a club and you're picked."

Potts, 49, has spent $10,000 of his own money, and doesn't accept contributions.

"This board goes along. They have never had an original idea. They never think beyond their terms. They never have passion," he said. "I'll either be the breath of fresh air or the broom that sweeps some of the people out."

Potts opposes CenterLine but believes high-speed regional rail lines and a tunnel through the Santa Ana Mountains may be the answer to the region's gridlock. He also said he would scrutinize new construction, especially in undeveloped areas, and push for more senior housing.

To deal with the state budget crisis that may cost the county's general fund $30 million, Potts would trim employee costs and privatize some county functions.

Candidate William Wetzel, 42, an assistant professor at Santa Ana College, has been involved in politics since 1989, including supporting Wally Wade's unsuccessful campaign to oust Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.

This is his first attempt at elected office.

"I didn't see anyone on the slate representative of our community's interest," he said.

His top priority would be dealing with health care for the county's indigent. Wetzel would seek solutions within the private sector.

"We have to come up with a short-term solution really quickly to save lives," Wetzel said.

Budget concerns also mean the county can't afford to build CenterLine, he said. Funding is also a problem for the tunnel through the mountains, and Wetzel said he has concerns about how long this proposal would take to bring relief to the gridlocked roads.

Wetzel, 42, proposed an income-generating project at the closed El Toro Marine base, preferably an amphitheater, and supports using taxpayer money to help fund it.

Candidate Douglas Boeckler opposes using county money to pay for a Great Park at El Toro. He also wants to ensure the groundwater contamination is removed before the military relinquishes control of it.

Boeckler, 62, has worked at the county's Veterans Services office for three decades.

He said the wisdom he gained there makes him an ideal fit for the post in this time of fiscal crises.

"The board needs experience on budget matters. I have the experience presently needed on the Board of Supervisors," he said. "I don't think we need a politician in that office."

The lone Democrat, Boeckler said the Saddle Creek and Saddle Creek canyon developments should accommodate the oak grove that is to be chopped down to make way for homes.

"These pristine areas need to be really scrutinized before development is permitted in them," he said.

Candidate Robert Douglas, 44, an Ohio native who served in the Marine Corps for seven years, said he decided to run when he learned of the challenges facing the county.

He called for examining county expenditures every quarter, additional accountability for department heads, better maintenance of county roads and parks, and more training for jail deputies on how to handle inmates.

"We need someone like myself who will bring fresh ideals, not a seasoned career politician," said Douglas, a postal worker in Santa Ana and a reserve sheriff's deputy for Los Angeles County.
Gaddi Vasquez endorsed disgraced OC Chairman Roger Stanton in last November's elections

Read and comment on this excerpt from a story from the LA Times on Roger Stanton, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1994, who resigned when Orange County plunged into bankruptcy when the county lost $1.7 billion through bad investments and who campaigned for election to Fountain Valley City Council on a platform of fiscal accountability. Although Stanton had the endorsement of Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez who was also a member of the Board of Supervisors during the bankruptcy and who also resigned before completing his term, Stanton lost his election. Read the story at:

Faded O.C. Star Seeks Votes and New Life*

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Faded O.C. Star Seeks Votes and New Life

Comeback Trail
October 28, 2002

By Janet Wilson, Times Staff Writer

Eager but humble, the silver-haired politician waits politely while the front door swings open.

"Hi, Mary, I'm Roger Stanton. I don't know if you remember me," he says with a smile.

"I sure do; you bet," responds Mary Talbot, a senior citizen who has lived on a quiet Fountain Valley cul-de-sac for years.

Stanton, 65, is campaigning with a vengeance for a seat on the Fountain Valley City Council -- and political redemption.

Roger Stanton (above) is gathering endorsements that include Gaddi Vasquez, Peace Corps Director.

Political Redemption

A decade ago, Stanton was one of Orange County's rising political stars, a dominant figure on the Board of Supervisors often talked about as a candidate for Congress or statewide office.

But that was before 1994, when Orange County plunged into bankruptcy. Stanton, chairman of the board at the time, was harshly criticized for letting the financial crisis happen on his watch.

Eight years later, Stanton says he's "refreshed and ready" to reenter the political fray.

Veteran political observers, longtime foes and even old friends said they are stunned by his run, especially because he says he wants to restore fiscal accountability to the city.

"I just almost fell off my chair," said Mark Petracca, a UC Irvine political science professor. "I guess in Fountain Valley it is possible to run away from your past."

Stanton seems to be banking on the fact that many voters don't remember or care about the county bankruptcy, and his strategy could prove to be a winning one.

Many voters either don't remember Stanton, and are glad to see a candidate at their front door, or seem to be willing to let bygones be bygones.

Ghosts of the past do pop up.

"No, I won't vote for him," said Jack DeFratus, a Fountain Valley resident since 1966. The bankruptcy "was pretty stupid. All these politicians, they think you forget it, what they did in the past. Well, we remember. I'd vote to keep him out."

Stanton responded that everyone is entitled to an opinion and that he will be grateful for every vote. He said he decided to run again while having coffee this summer with other former city politicians who thought it was time for a change. The day before the deadline, he went to City Hall and filed. For a council race, he is conducting an aggressive campaign, gathering endorsements that include Sheriff Michael S. Carona; Gaddi Vasquez, Peace Corps director and also a former supervisor; other former and current supervisors; and school board trustees.

Nearly all of his reported contributors so far are from outside the city, including longtime county lobbyist Frank Michelena, former Irvine Co. executive Gary Hunt and other developers. Stanton is not using the $120,000 he still has in the bank from county races. He would not rule out using those funds for possible future, higher office -- perhaps a run for Assemblyman Ken Maddox's seat in 2004.

"Never say never," he said with a smile.

Fiscal accountability?

"Fiscal accountability? That is the most hysterical thing I have ever heard, for a guy who was in charge of the board at a time when the county went bankrupt," said former county administrative officer Ernie Schneider.

He and others note that Stanton voted to approve $600 million in speculative investments that eventually led to the bankruptcy.

Stanton and two other county officials faced civil misconduct charges -- eventually dismissed -- for failing to prevent the bankruptcy.

Stanton said comparing county investments and city expenditures is like comparing apples and oranges. He usually avoids mention of his tenure as board chairman during the bankruptcy, saying, "It's history that's been told a thousand times." He refers to himself in campaign literature as "the city's representative on the board of supervisors."

But when pressed, he defends his work then, as do many supporters.

"I stayed. I did my job," he said. "I helped get the county out of it, as well as providing 14 other years of service."

Former Fountain Valley Mayor Ben Nielsen, who is backing him, said that Stanton did nothing wrong before the bankruptcy by listening to financial advisors and county staff and acting on their advice on investments.

After the collapse, he said, "Roger was a stabilizing force on that board; he was one of the guys who got us through it. There were other supervisors who quit.

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