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Griping about money in Irvine elections

Sean Emery has a pretty interesting story in Saturday’s edition of the Irvine World News/OC Post. The story reports that $1.3 million was used for candidates and ballot measures in last November’s election.  Not a shabby number for a city of 200,000 people.

The biggest whiners: those candidates who represent the “old” Irvine, the ones used to winning elections without spending a lot.

From the story:

“It’s outrageous to spend that much money in a local race,” said Councilwoman Christina Shea, who lost her mayoral bid to Sukhee Kang. “This isn’t what Irvine politics should be about.”

“It (ballot measures) kind of defeats the purpose of spending limits and transparency, and what the community thinks they supported,” said Margie Wakeham, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for a council seat. “The people (candidates) are good, and I don’t think there is anybody who ran that didn’t work. But it’s not transparent, and that is the thing that bothers me the most.”

Despitre announcing her intention to run for Mayor nearly a year before the election, Shea was unable to raise money needed to run.  The city’s population has increased dramatically since she was mayor, and not all of these new residents are Republicans.  Depite the fundraising gap, Shea ran a close race, losing to Sukhee Kang because there are a number of Irvine residents who will simply never vote for anyone who doesn’t have an “R” next to their names.  Wakeham, despite her party affiliation as a Democrat, was closely aligned with the Shea/Choi camp and was the surprising target of a GOP hit piece that left her no time to respond.

Irvine, as a city, has turned a shade bluer.  This was the fifth straight election won by progressives and President Obama carried Irvine with 57 percent of the vote.  Even the No on Prop 8 won in this city, so perhaps its not so much the money raised or the highly negative campaigns waged by Republicans against Democrats, but that Irvine’s newest residents have more progressive, Democratic and (dare I say it) liberal values that “old Irvine does?

What I miss most about the “old” Irvine is our weekly community newspaper.  The Irvine World News, as a tabloid, was a well-done newspaper.  We had great coverage of the city, community events, well-written editorials and an active letters to the editor section.  Now, our paper is a rehash of stuff that’s already run in the Register, collections of comments from the Internet and an ever shrinking number of articles that pertain to the city. 

Point in case, the paper ran not one but two news stories about how Edwards Lifesciences was adding 250 jobs in the city.  One was an extended news article and another a news brief.  And clearly, the same editor did not make the connection from one story to the next. 

Back east, there are a number of cities with populations well under Irvine’s 200,000 that have daily newspapers.  I have to believe there’s a healthy enough advertising base and enough news in this city to suppport an independent newspaper that’s not recycling the same, previously-published and repurposed content.