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Update: No Consensus. The DPOC’s Denise Barnes Problem

Denise Barnes, Anaheim City Council


Barnes failed to get the Party’s endorsement; 30 votes for; 23 votes for no endorsement and 7 abstentions.  Barnes’ parting worlds to the party were one of thanks and “I intend to continue to be a force to be reckoned with.”


Monday night’s special endorsement meeting for the Democratic Party of Orange County features a recommended endorsement for Anaheim City Council District 1 — newly minted Democrat Denise Barnes.  She’s the incumbent and there’s no other Democrat running for the spot.  But she’s been a Democrat for all of 21 days.

So it’s conceiveable that she was still a Republican when you bought that quart of half-and-half for your morning coffee and it’s still in the fridge.

I’ll just say it: Barnes doesn’t deserve the party’s endorsement.  Way too many unresolved questions about her belief system.

A Barnes email showed up on Sunday and it was sent by her Republican Council aide Cynthia Ward.  Now when the Republicans rebuild their party from the dying grasp of Trumpism, Ms. Ward is one of those principled conservatives who will build the foundation.  I like Cynthia.  She is a good person — wrong on certain policy issues — but she is principled and kind.  She’s also backing Joe Biden for President this November.  I just hope she sent this email as a volunteer and not part of her gig as Barnes’ council aide.

Ward isn’t Barnes problem.  Barnes judgment comes into play on another council aide — Helen Myers.  She seems to be a big-time anti-immigrant part of Barnes’ staff.  Here’s some questionable Facebook screen grabs on Ms. Myers that Ms. Barnes should explain:


Here’s the Barnes email sent by Ward on Sunday:

August 1, 2020 

Friends, colleagues, honored members of the DPOC Central Committee,

My name is Denise Barnes. I currently serve as the City Councilmember in West Anaheim’s District One. I was elected in 2016 following the by-district election system, a game-changer that I know many of you fought hard to assist us in achieving. 

As I seek re-election to a 2ndterm in office, I humbly request your consideration for my potential endorsement by the DPOC. I am honored with the endorsement of the following leaders;

My colleague on the Anaheim City Council, Dr. Jose Moreno

Congressman Lou Correa 

Assembly member Sharon Quirk Silva 

Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee

AUHSD School Board Member Al Jabbar 

CA State Senate Candidate Josh Newman 

DPOC Central Cmte member Ed Lopez 

Anaheim Democratic Club 

I have not had the opportunity to meet many of you. I am one of the newly-minted Democrats created in the recent wave of “Recovering Republicans” who left the GOP, having watched the party of my younger years compromise itself, knuckling under until the party and its members became unrecognizable, while committing horrid abuse to Americans, those who wish to become Americans, and to our Constitution. 

I joined the Democratic Party because I realized the leaders who best represented my viewpoints were all Democrats. It was Democratic leaders who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me these last 3 1/2 years. I appreciate the warm welcome I received into the fold of the DPOC, and I look forward to creating new friendships with people who more closely represent my values than the party I left behind.

In my first term in office, working with many other proud citizens and local leaders, we have accomplished the following;

  • Anaheim has begun to prioritize public funds toward neighborhoods and away from special interest spending. 
  • The long-awaited Specific Plan for the revitalization of Beach Blvd was completed and approved by the City Council. 
  • The development of “39 Commons” at Beach and Lincoln has been put into motion after literally decades of delays. The area will soon boast new housing opportunities, retail, and a desperately needed grocery store. 
  • The condition of our parks has greatly improved, with lawns reseeded, and restrooms reconditioned. A city-wide parks plan has been completed to guide future investments, and a dog park is about to be completed at Maxwell Park, near the Haskett Library. 
  • We reversed agreements with Disney for a “gate tax” kickback and massive bed tax rebate for a luxury hotel. We passed a Resolution making it clear that a $319MM streetcar for the lucrative tourism industry would not be built on the backs of Anaheim taxpayers. 
  • Our Police department has become the most progressive of any in OC, with our officers now wearing body-cameras, and a citizen oversight Police Review Board, in addition to Mike Genanno’s OIR reviews. Just last Tuesday, our Police Chief announced Anaheim PD will no longer use any form of neck holds on those they are taking into custody! 
  • We finally focused on homelessness and our Council approved the construction of 2 emergency shelters and a long-term shelter at the Salvation Army property. The next step is to build permanent supportive housing with wrap-around services to move our neighbors out of shelters and into permanent homes. District One invited Jamboree Housing to rehabilitate an aging motel property into studio apartments for supportive housing, with on-site services for residents, in a project soon to be completed. 
  • City-funded projects are now subject to a Community Benefits Agreement, with union participation for our workforce. 
  • We approved an agreement with the owners of the Ducks to build an entertainment district, bringing in jobs, a new tax base, and numerous community benefits. 

It’s been the experience of a lifetime to be part of these changes that West Anaheim has waited so long to enjoy. But there is so much more to be done.

 Anaheim’s Mayor has irresponsibly spent beyond our budgeted revenues, drawing against our reserve funds for projects favored by special interests. The same Republican Council majority turns their backs on those in need, especially seniors and our neighbors who have been devastated by loss of income from Covid. We must reverse this mindset. 

We must ensure that those who provide the human energy of our “economic engine” of tourism are offered the potential for a brighter future. That goal was secured in part by the recent approval of Measures L and M, which I supported, but there is more we can do. We must also finally diversify Anaheim’s economy. We can support hospitality professionals while also ending our reliance on the volatility of tourism as our primary employment base, and create a more stable source of tax revenue, with better jobs for the next generation. 

We need a Strategic Plan that looks at the needs of our seniors and plans for our most vulnerable population with dignity. 

We need affordable housing, built with a comprehensive policy for affordable units throughout the city, as has been successfully done in Newport Beach and Irvine. 

We need to keep seeking ways to reduce the strain on Police services by diverting as many dispatch calls to the appropriate professionals who are properly trained to respond to crisis issues not requiring the presence of sworn officers. 

I hope that my service in office as a Democrat brings Anaheim one step closer to a cohesive, and more progressive Council majority able to create the change needed for a brighter future, and building a better vision of local government after the disruption of 2020. 

I thank you all for your time to even consider me for endorsement. I appreciate being warmly welcomed into the Democratic party, and being encouraged to participate despite my history with another party in the past. 

I would love to hear from you. I can be reached by return email at: (I’m leaving this out–editor)

The three bolded items are bolded because Barnes was part of the Tait Majority on the city council from 2016-2018 and those could have been done then but were not.

DPOC Chair Ada Briceno sent this message Monday morning; I’m only publishing the part that deals with Barnes:

After interviewing all candidates, I am convinced that the following candidates in contested races will partner with us to serve the public interest well when elected. These candidates have also all shown enthusiasm to support our critical overlapping races – Gil Cisneros in CD-39, Josh Newman in SD-29, Andrew Rodriguez in AD-55, Sergio Contreras for OC Supervisor, Vicente Sarmiento for Santa Ana Mayor, to name a few – and have shown a commitment to progressive change. I urge you to vote for the following candidates tonight:

  • Denise Barnes, Anaheim City Council District 1

Councilmember Barnes is the only Democrat running for this seat. She is a recent Democrat, but she is not new to the cause of economic and racial justice in Anaheim. Since day one, she has stood up to take on multimillion dollar corporations on behalf of the working poor. She supported Measure L, giving hotel workers a higher minimum wage, she is a strong advocate for the homeless, and she is committed to the cause of unionization. She is supported by the Anaheim Democratic Club and Dr. Jose Moreno, Anaheim Councilmember & progressive champion. Through my union, Unite HERE 11, I have worked with her to lift families up from poverty – and that’s precisely why my union, one of the most progressive in Orange County, endorsed her re-election. I urge you to uphold the endorsement committee’s recommendation to confirm her DPOC endorsement tonight.

I’ll note the Anaheim Democratic Club has only about 20 active members, so support from this club doesn’t necessarily reflect broad support from the city’s Democratic voters. In 2018, a club officer (Vern Nelson) spent money on signs that read “No Brandman; Disney Carpetbagger” and was never admonished by the DPOC for his opposition to the party’s endorsement.

I can’t bring myself to cast a ballot in favor of Ms. Barnes; so put me down as a “no.”