The Answer To The Question "Who Is That Guy?"
OK, folks... the partying is over... thanks for all the kind words. Now back to business.
MEETING JAMES RADER
I had a chance to speak with the unknown candidate for Costa Mesa City Council, James Rader, earlier this week. He was kind enough to return my calls and we had a nice chat about him and his candidacy. I must tell you that I liked him a lot based on that conversation.
Mr. Rader - a Westside resident - is an engineer involved with customer interface in the custom circuit board business. He's been doing this kind of work for almost three decades and has been with his current employer for a dozen years.
HOMELESS ISSUE MOTIVATED HIM
He tells me that he decided to throw his hat in the ring because of his frustration with the homeless situation near his home - across the street from Lions Park. I'm sure most of us can understand that, for sure. He complained about transients sleeping near his home, defiling his trash cans and making every trip across the street to the library or Historical Society an adventure in personal safety.
MANY OTHERS HAD A SINGLE ISSUE
It's been my observation that, over the years, it has been a single issue that has prompted many of our local politicians to get involved, so his reasoning didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was his almost complete lack of knowledge - or even awareness - of many of the important issues that have been swirling around our city for the past few years.
For example, he was completely unaware of the Homeless Task Force that had been working diligently to try to identify and solve the many elements of the "homeless problem". Since that was his motivating issue, I kind of expected him to be a little more up to speed on that one, if nothing else.
...ABOUT MOST ISSUES
He also has NO knowledge of the Charter issue, only a cursory awareness of the outsourcing drama and is vaguely aware of the budget issues facing the city. He told me he has no acquaintanceship with any of the other candidates and only knows Gary Monahan because he's eaten at his place a couple times.
I don't get too excited when I meet residents who are clueless about important issues because that was me for nearly three decades. I was like most folks in this town - I went to work each day out of the city, worked hard to make a living, then returned home to enjoy the fruits of those labors. I figured I was in good hands - that the elected leaders of the city would do the right things on my behalf. Yep, I, too, was clueless.
I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS, THOUGH
However, it's a BIG problem for me when a person takes the step to file as a candidate for City Council - paying the fees, gathering the necessary signatures and exposing his life to the world - with so little awareness of the important issues in the city and the time it will take to do the job even moderately well.
A MISTAKE, BUT TOO LATE...
It was clear during my conversation with him that Mr. Rader knew he made a mistake by filing because when the City Clerk called to tell him he had qualified for the ballot he asked her if it was too late to withdraw. The answer, of course, was YES! That's a real shame, because this race is going to be a barn-burner and every single vote will count. Even if he avoids every candidate forum - he's going to miss the first one because of a planned vacation - and does NO campaigning at all he will likely get 1,000 votes in November that would have gone to someone else.
NO PARTY AFFILIATION
Mr. Rader describes himself as a "decline to state" candidate. He told me that he had been a registered Democrat, then switched to the Republican Party, then re-registered in his current status several years ago. So, because he doesn't know the issues, we don't know how his presence on the ballot might impact the election. I guess we'll see.
HE'S GOT HIS HANDS FULL
He told me he's going to be very busy doing his homework to get up to speed on the issues. Based on the number and complexity of those issues, he's certainly going to have his hands full. I wish him well and actually do look forward to meeting him at the forums if he decides to actually participate in the process.
WHAT A SHAME...I shudder to think about the possibility of this election - the second-most important one in the city's history - being decided by the votes cast for a man who made a mistake in filing. Let's hope that's not the case.