On Thursday, I had what was supposed to be an hour conversation with Dr. Jose Moreno about his candidacy for Anaheim City Council. It was supposed to be an hour meeting that turned into a nearly three hour chat and very worthwhile. We covered a lot of ground. I had a long list of questions which Dr. Moreno somehow answered in the context of answering other questions. I was satisified by some of the answers and dissatisifed by others. But there is no question he is convinced he will be elected to the Anaheim City Council this November, and if he is not, he sees his mission as building a strong bench of Democratic candidates to represent Anaheim in future elections. We both fondly miss “The Tasty” in Cambridge, Mass, so that got things off on the right foot.
Q. You did pull papers for re-election to the Anaheim City School Board, what made you decide to pull papers for City Council.
A. I have to thank Matt Cunningham and his blog. I pulled papers for school board on July 17, but I was not 100 percent sure to run again period. But many people have been urging me to run for city council..I pulled papers but kept my options open. After reading a post about me on Matt’s blog, I called the Registrar of voters to check on everything and they were confused because the other Jose Moreno had pulled papers for the Anaheim High School district and they thought it was me. My candidacy for city council is not a head fake. I was urged to run for city council because of my track record of bringing people together. I checked with my wife and my kids because of the demand of this sort of race. And we made the decision. I have my work cut out for me especially in fundraising.
Q. There are two Jose Moreno’s on the ballot for city council; what are you doing to do to make sure voters are voting for you.
A. Ballot designations are important here. I will distinguish myself by using my title and my middle initial, which I wouldn’t have done if he (Jose “Joe” Moreno) wasn’t in the race. My campaign team will be making huge efforts to associate the title and middle initial with my identity for voters.
Q. There’s a charge that your ballot statement has an incorrect title; a claim you are president of a school board that doesn’t exist. Can you explain?
A. This is a brand new campaign and a brand new team, The copy was submitted before the mistake was caught. It’s a mistake. An honest mistake.
Q. Why the sudden change to be a Democrat of which there is some criticism that you’ve become a Democrat to gain the benefits of party affiliation without the “sweat equity.”
A, I became a Democrat because I felt the beliefs of the party aligned with the belief of my heart. It coincided with the first time I went to the DPOC to address the party. The timing was just right. As far as “have I paid sweat equity to the party,” did I do it when I walked neighborhoods for Sharon Quirk Silva? Did I earn it when I volunteered to register new Democrats at the DPOC booth at the Orange County Fair? Or did it do it when I endorsed Democratic candidates, walked neighgorhoods for them, endorsed them for office? I believe I can contribute to the party and I believe I can help Anaheim build a strong bench of Democratic candidates for elections to come.
Q. You championed districts for Anaheim. What’s wrong with the district-based at large elections like they have in Santa Ana?
A. That’s a colonial based form of government that we fought a war against more than 200 years ago. It’s not effective and it’s not what the people want. Santa Ana should adopt what we are trying to do in Anaheim. To use the Santa Ana method of district elections further disenfranchises Latino voters. While we make up the majority of the city’s population, we are only 32 percent of the electorate so we cannot affect change or even influence elective races even if we want too. That’s the basis on a California Voting Act for which we filed the lawsuit. This is issue number one for me.
Q. While ACSD schools have made tremendous strides since you joined the school board, the test scores are still below state average. Can you point to specific policies that have helped.
A. We have modernized every school and placed an emphasis on learning, not test scores. So critical thinking skills are very important. We have 16,000 to 19,000 kids in our schools, so we’re working with parents and teachers to involve them in how the schools are run. I helped start, as a parent, a successful bilingual language program that benefits Spanish and English speakers alike to give more kids the opportunity to become more bilingual and biliterate. and we have expanded this program since I have been on the school board. We have made tremendous strides but still have some work to do. But we are on the right path. Its important to develop programs that keep elementary school kids away from gangs, we need to have youth leagues where the cost of affordable so a kid will play on a team instead of not being part of something positive.
Q. There’s talk that you’re a Tom Tait support even though there is a strong Democrat running for mayor. Please explain your position.
A. I gave my endorsement to Mayor Tait back in January and I gave money to his campaign because he has been fighting for things that matter to me. Mayor Tait fought harder than anyone on the council for district elections. My endorsement of the mayor will stay with him as long as he wants it. He has fought giveaways of large taxpayer subsidies when critical public benefits for the project still weren’t identified. Mayor Tait has fought for re-investmentin our neighborhoods (we pointed out the last two budgets seemed to offer significant budgetary improvements for these neighborhoods which Moreno maintains hasn’t happened yet). And the mayor has fought for strong and appropriate police oversight.
(We pointed out that Lorri Galloway, the only Democrat declared for Mayor, actually supports all of these things, Moreno insisted he gave Tait his word in January, before Galloway announced. Galloway announced her intentions to run for Mayor in Spring 2014. We also pointed out Anaheim council member voted for districting (and we have documents of Brandman introducing a review of data for districting dating back to December 2012 using the same careful mechanisms that Moreno used himself on the Anaheim Board. But in Moreno’s view, Brandman didn’t fight hard enough or lend this voice to the districting campaign well enough for Dr. Moreno. But the record clearly reflects Brandman spoke out on the issue well before Tait got involved.
We had a fact check call with Dr. Moreno Friday afternoon and we pointed out the discrepancy in his endorsement timeline. Moreno said Tait asked for his endorsement before Galloway made her plans known in November and, being a person of integrity, Moreno will not withdraw his endorsement of Tait unless the mayor asks him to do so. Think about that OC GOP central committee members. Your “Elected Official of the Year” proactively sought the endorsement of one of Anaheim’s best known progressives who while being a DTS clearly doesn’t embrace Tait’s conservative agenda. And this endorsement of a conservative mayor who has flip flopped on a number of issues, hates unions, and cannot control the chamber during council meetings remains a head shaker for many Democrats.
Again, we chatted for three hours. Dr. Moreno is convinced he’ll be elected but he’s running a race before the parameters of districting have kicked in. School board races didn’t require a lot of money to run and he’s way behind the Tait slate and Kris Murray and Gail Eastman when it comes to the funds needed to mount a battle of messaging and the cost those things require. His base isn’t exactly in a position to help him raise a lot of money, and one gets the impression that if he’s elected, he’ll side with Mayor Tait more than Democrat Jordan Brandman. You also get the sense that there’s bad blood between him and Democratic Mayoral candidate Lorri Galloway, because even though her views are closely aligned with Tait, Moreno is all in for the mayor in spite of being a newly minted Democrat.
More details on others issues later. It was a three hour chat and we learned a lot about each other.