I get almost as much e-mail from David Hernandez as I do from the Obamas.
Hernandez is one of nine candidates running against Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the March 3 Los Angeles election. The word underdog does not adequately describe the unlikelihood of any of them winning. But they deserve credit for bringing at least limited democracy to the mayoral election. In addition to Hernandez they are Carlos Alvarez, Gordon Tanner, Walter Moore, Phil Jennerjahn, James Harris, Bruce Darian, David “Zuma Dogg” Saltzburg and Craig X. Rubin.
I like Hernandez, who spent 25 years as an insurance adjuster and has been a community leader/gadfly for a long time. He is president of the Los Angeles Public Access Coalition, which is fighting the state law that relieved cable companies of the requirement to provide studios and channels for public access.
One reason I like him is that he was one of the few people who saw through the City Council’s successful effort a couple of years ago to extend term limits—Proposition R—by disguising it as a political reform measure. It actually made it much harder for the City Ethics Commission to enforce ethics laws. I was on the ethics commission at the time and met Hernandez when we were both visiting neighborhood councils criticizing the maneuver. We both liked to point out that the law, while sponsored by the League of Women Voters, was written by the lobbyists who have since benefited from it. Hernandez is still fighting the law in court.
I also like the way he’s campaigning, adopting the Obama technique of compiling an e-mail list and flooding the recipients with his views on issues. Some of the other candidates are doing this, but not as much as Hernandez. And his e -mails and web site are heavily issue oriented. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says. I think the Wilshire Subway is a great idea. But he’s getting the debate out there, at least to those on his list. Other candidates for the offices on the March 3 ballot should do more of the same.
It’s a great way of publicizing the issues now that the newspapers are too strapped to cover the campaign adequately, and the television stations, as always, ignore local politics. Maybe during this campaign candidates like Hernandez will show how irrelevant the old media is becoming to L.A. elections.