Local politics takes an unpleasant turn

For anyone who still believes that Culver City is immune to nasty, sour grapes political campaigns are no longer, look no further than the latest political “controversy.”

At the Sept. 9 meeting of the Culver City Democratic Club, the club’s members held an endorsement meeting for the three candidates running for the Culver City Unified School District Board of Education- Scott McVarish, Anne Burke a and Kelly Kent.  Only one candidate—   Kent— was chosen.

That decision set off a chain reaction of charges of rigged votes and skullduggery among local bloggers the following day, with supporters of Burke and McVarish and a variety of “sources”   claiming— without offering a smattering of proof— that the endorsement process had been compromised in advance.

 According to one blog, Burke offered up the assertion to one blog that she was “told by a friend in the Dem Club” that she and her running mate would not be endorsed by the club.

Fast forward to a recent endorsement meeting of the United Parents of Culver City, which endorsed McVarish and Burke.  And while both are members of the organization, no one raised and questions about a “rigged process.”

Jewett Walker, a Culver City political consultant who has run statewide ballot initiatives and local AND statewide political candidates, finds it ironic that supporters of the parent group would criticize any endorsement. “They endorsed their [school board] candidates [in 2013] before they had even filed [to run for office],” Walker recalled with a smile.

 The practice of dismissing endorsements of certain organizations as unimportant or questioning the motives of the voting entity can be traced back to 2013, when supporters of United Parents of Culver City-backed candidates took issue with the Culver City Federation of Teachers’ endorsement of other candidates. Many of these same supporters were silent when the teachers union endorsed at least one of their candidates in 2009.

Walker also took issue with the claims of “bullet voting” — a voting tactic when a voter only makes their ballot for one candidate when there are multiple contenders on a ballot. Critics of the Democratic Club vote also assailed this practice, even though none offered any evidence against a practice that is not illegal.

“I don’t even know why they would raise the issue of ‘bullet voting.’ People have the right to vote for who they want to,” Walker said. “The fact that the [club members] didn’t vote for two candidates doesn’t mean that they had to.”

 The election is Nov. 3, nearly six weeks away.  And the first salvos of the campaign have launched.