Fullerton’s Council is About to… Stay Mostly the Same

I’ve avoided writing about the election because largely I don’t care about the results. Not a single (R), (L) or (I) ran for City Council in Fullerton and so at the end of the day we’re either re-electing the same old people or simply swapping (D)s for (D)s and that’s not very interesting. It wasn’t an election of ideas or mandates, it was just more of the same in different flavors.

The District 3 winner is Shana Charles and the District 5 winner is Ahmad Zahra.

Both of them won with a simple plurality with about 300 more people voting against Zahra than for him and over 600 more people voting against Charles than for her.

But don’t expect either to take that into consideration or to be humbled by it.

Frankly you can just expect Zahra and Charles to pretend that they have some sort of mandate to be tyrants, as nearly all elected officials do when they win, despite the fact that more people voted AGAINST either of them than voted FOR them (as of today’s numbers).

Fullerton City Council 2022 Election Numbers - Not Final

The district 5 election was probably a lot closer than Zahra wanted owing to the high pressure campaign being run against him in the sign wars and with Friend’s for Fullerton’s Future running seemingly non-stop against him, but the results aren’t a surprise.

Ultimately, the self-promotion and selfie-obsessed Zahra won reelection against a guy who nobody had heard about until they saw his signs pop up around town and not much more of a surprise that Charles beat (R) turned (D) Johnny Ybarra and perennial wet noodle Arnel Dino.

With the exception of one supporter, everybody who talked to me about Oscar Valadez had no idea why he was running or what he stood for and weirdly when I asked about him a lot of people seemed to think that masking and vaxxing kids in school was the only thing he seemed passionate about which seems odd for a City Council candidate (as opposed to say, school board). The entire pitched for Valadez was that he wasn’t Zahra and that’s usually not a winning strategy.

For my math, replacing Zahra with Valadez would have been little more than changing the attitude and tone on the dais while the votes would have been largely the same and probably worse for a reason I’ll get into in a minute.

As for Charles, she annoys me to no end as I think she’s pretentious, condescending and anybody who makes a point to extoll a title exhausts me. I don’t care that you have a doctorate in Health Services, that amounts in practical terms to a doctorate in bureaucracy which means you’re likely the very thing people should hate about government. Yay. I can’t wait until she has to decide which title, “Dr” or “Councilperson”, she demands people use when addressing her in public comments.

Ultimately Charles winning is moot for Fullerton’s City Council as she’s replacing Silva who would have voted damn near identically to Charles on every single issue. The only downside is that Silva could barely articulate a point from the dais unless somebody had written it beforehand for him, while Charles, I’m sure, will be grandstanding as bad Zahra and Jung do currently. We already saw her doing that as she shilled for the Firefighter’s Union when they were trying to stick us with a backdoor tax by way of moving to the Orange County Fire Authority.

But she was supporting something that Silva voted for so the math doesn’t change with her in that seat instead of him. We’re set to get the exact same big-government, race-bait politics as before, we just might hear “equity” used slightly less.

Where things get interesting is that Charles is quite clearly Team Zahra and that was extremely evident during the campaign. That puts her at odds with Fred Jung who has had a feud with Zahra since Jung was first elected to council. You can witness this feud every single meeting when Zahra lackey Bernard shows up to talk smack on Jung (as well as sometimes Whitaker & Dunlap) during public comments only to get a ride home from Zahra after the meeting (sometimes). If Bernard’s talking points are NOT coordinated with Zahra beforehand I’d be a bit surprised.

Charles being Team Zahra puts her on the ass-end of this feud which might be good for Fullerton because Jung, being a union (D), could be swayed to vote with Silva as Silva ALSO had a long-standing feud with Zahra which made them somewhat allies.

The Zahra/Silva drama goes back to Zahra’s 2018 campaign consultant, Daniel Fierro, allegedly being retaliated against by Silva on behalf of Assemblywoman Christina Garcia after he came forward with allegations of sexual assault.

But despite that, Silva always was and always will be a party loyalist who would put his animosity for Zahra aside to push an item. This allowed Silva (or rather his handlers and by handlers I mean his wife) to find a way to take ownership of an issue that Zahra was ALSO supporting and all Zahra had to do was keep his mouth shut to get what he wanted as Silva gave Jung reasons to go along.

This is important because Jung has been the swing vote on nearly every issue for the prior two years on anything that had a possibility to not just go in the (D)s favor. Almost all important issues, budgetary and otherwise, went solid left because at the end of the day Jung is just another (D) so let’s not kid ourselves here, but on the margins his votes tended to be less about ideology or merit and more about being anti-Zahra.

Don’t mistake this as an attack, it’s really not. Most people vote with a bias. I don’t believe anything Silva did was for the betterment of the City, everything he does was done to position himself for higher office as his wife had done before him. This is politics and self-interest rules the day. It’s just an interesting dynamic that part of Jung’s self-interest came in the form of being anti-Zahra and largely that’s something I can appreciate.

Lest you think this is partisan, it should be noted that (R)s Whitaker and Fitzgerald couldn’t help but vote against their own party or supposed ideology if it meant supporting each other.

My guess is that the new Council dynamic will be solidly Zahra and Charles on the left which might end up pushing Jung closer to the middle just out of spite. At least we can hope that will be the case as single party rule ruins any governing body. I simply don’t see Charles having the finesse to play the middle as she’s too much of an ideologue and we might be better off for it.

This brings us back to Valadez. Had Valadez beat Zahra I’m pretty confident in saying that Valadez would have inadvertently delivered more votes to the left side of the aisle, through Jung, by way of removing the antagonizing Zahra factor if Charles were to play along. That’s out the window now.

So while we’re still screwed on the budget, pensions, police oversight, basic accountability and and and, it might lead to a more interesting, or perhaps more amusing, series of council meetings especially when Charles starts bringing her own version of Bernard to the meetings. The entertainment factor may go up, but other than that not much is likely to change.

Maybe in 2024 a more interesting slate of candidate will appear but I’m not holding my breath.