Tuesday, December 11, 2001
Most Court Contenders in March Vote Eschew Candidate Statements
Officials Say They Are Reviewing Two Candidates’ Occupational Designations
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Only two of the 18 candidates seeking six Superior Court seats in the March 5 primary submitted candidate statements for publication in the official voter pamphlet by Friday’s deadline, election officials said.
Joseph Deering, a Santa Monica attorney running for the seat being vacated by Judge Michael Pirosh, and State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo, who hopes to succeed Judge David Finkel, paid $26,000 each to have the statements printed and mailed to county voters. The sum is the estimated cost of printing and distribution.
There will be a seventh race on the ballot, but the deadline for filing for that seat, currently held by Judge Reginald Dunn, does not close until tomorrow. The filing period was automatically extended because Dunn filed his declaration of intention to run but did not finalize a candidacy by returning nomination documents by Friday.
There are currently two candidates for that seat, but any qualified contender can enter the race by tomorrow’s 5 p.m. deadline.
Deering, who is currently operating without a campaign consultant, said he thought having the statement was important in a race against “pretty stiff competition”—Deputy District Attorney Hank Goldberg and Workers’ Compensation Judge Donald Renetzky.
Strategy to Win
“My strategy is to win,” he told the MetNews. As for his opponents’ decision not to file, he quipped, “maybe they don’t want the job as much.”
Judicial candidates and their consultants have argued for years as to the effectiveness of the candidate statement in relation to its costs. Some contend that the opportunity to send material to every voting household is too great to pass up, while others question how many voters actually read the pamphlet and suggest that other devices—such as slate mail—are more cost-effective.
Consultant Fred Huebscher, for example, represents candidates in five of the six races, and none of them submitted statements. Huebscher is a veteran advocate and vendor of slate mail.
Cerrell Associates Inc., which has traditionally represented the largest number of judicial candidates in the county, has one candidate so far this year, Judge C. Robert Simpson. Simpson prepared a statement, but checked a box on a county form indicating that he would withdraw the statement if his opponent did not submit one.
Simpson’s challenger, Glendale attorney Kenneth E. Wright, has engaged in no visible campaign activity.
Bacigalupo, who is being advised by the Garcia McCoy Lee Consulting Group—a firm in which his wife, Lucy McCoy, is a principal—said he thought the statement was important to an overall campaign strategy.
“The voter pamphlet is an important opportunity to communicate to the voters of Los Angeles County a candidate’s positions, background, and endorsements,” Bacigalupo said. “I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Bacigalupo faces Superior Court Commissioner Steven Lubell, Deputy District Attorney David Gelfound, and Pasadena attorney David Crawford III.
In other election developments, a spokeswoman for the registrar’s office said two candidates—Bacigalupo and Gelfound—were having their ballot designations reviewed.
Bacigalupo is asking to be listed as “Judge, State Bar” and Gelfound, a member of his office’s Hardcore Gang Unit, as “Gang Prosecutor.”
Bacigalupo said he has submitted copies of the relevant State Bar Act provisions describing the State Bar Court and the role of its judges. “I don’t anticipate any problem” in having the designation listed on the ballot, he said.
A candidate for another seat, Robert S. Harrison, changed his designation to Attorney/Hearing Officer after his original choice, “Attorney/Police Judge,” was questioned by officials. Harrison is one of a number of civilians who sit periodically as members of the Los Angeles Police Department Board of Rights, which conducts disciplinary hearings.
Harrison is running for the seat being vacated by Judge Michael Kanner. The other candidates in that race are Deputy District Attorney Lauren Weis, former Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Richard Espinoza, and Covina lawyer H. Don Christian.
Also yesterday, Superior Court Commissioner Glenda Veasey said she would not run for the Dunn seat. Veasey is one of three candidates who filed declarations of intention to run, but said they would not remain in the race if Dunn did.
The other two, Encino attorney Thomas Warden and Deputy District Attorney Richard Walmark, returned their nomination documents Friday.
“I don’t think I like…politics,” Veasey said. “The whole process is giving me a real bad taste in my mouth.”
Veasey, who said she had been besieged with calls from consultants and others looking to sell her campaign services, described the process as being akin to “buying and selling judgeships.”
She said she would rather “continue doing my work” and hope for an appointment by the governor to a vacant judgeship.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company