Attack Campaign Mailer Draws Ire of City

The home stretch for San Marino City Council campaigns means residents can count on candidates stumping, public debates on the merits of measures and election shenanigans from shadowy schemers.
In advance of the Nov. 3 election in which five City Council candidates are vying for two open seats, an anti-incumbent propaganda mailer in English and Mandarin recently found its way to San Marino residents’ homes, according to City Manager John Schaefer. State election law requires committees that spend more than $1,000 to register themselves, but the group behind the mailer, the Committee to Elect Two New Council Members, had not done so. Currently, Schaefer said City Hall has no knowledge of the individuals who make up the Committee to Elect Two New Council Members.
Believing the mailer to have cost more than $1,000 to disseminate, City Clerk Veronica Ruiz filed a formal complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission, which has launched an official investigation. However, it is unlikely that the investigation would be completed before the Nov. 3 election.
The incumbents running for re-election are Mayor Eugene Sun and Dennis Kneier. While challengers Steven Huang, Scott Kwong and Steven Talt would theoretically stand to benefit from the content of the mailer, each has emphatically denied any involvement or prior knowledge about it before it was sent out.
The mailer claims three home invasions in the past year could have been a result of the council-supported farmer’s market and an immediately dismissed council suggestion that police be disarmed. It also raises issues of mansionization and the reversal of decisions to run by both incumbents.
“The upcoming election is critical to the future of our city,” the mailer read. “We do not like the direction our city has been moving in the last few years.”
The mailer’s envelope displayed the text “Important San Marino voter information inside” and had a return address of P.O. Box #361 at 1613 Chelsea Road.
Meanwhile, the city of San Marino issued a press release regarding absentee ballots to quell rumors in town about absentee ballots being collected and brought in by candidates or their committees. The release referenced part of Election Code 3017 and provided a layman’s translation: “Said more simply, candidates or committee members cannot collect or submit any voted ballot other than their own or that of their spouse.”
In addition to the two council terms that are expiring, voters will decide on two measures. Measure U is a 10-year update extension on a utility user tax with a decrease in the maximum rate from 6% to 5%. Measure SA is an ordinance to continue a special public safety tax for paramedic services, fire protection and prevention and police protection for San Marino.
The last day to register to vote is Oct. 19 and the final day that vote-by-mail applications can be accepted by the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is Oct. 27. The election results will be certified at the Dec. 9 council meeting and the council reorganization will take place immediately afterward.
On the Nov. 3 Election Day, polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. To find your polling place, visit LAVote.net/Locator.

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