Irvine Council member Farrah Khan lent her vote at Tuesday’s meeting to appoint Irvine Planning Commissioner Mike Carroll to fill a vacancy on the Irvine City Council and a number of folks are losing their minds.
Carroll, the husband of IUSD trustee Betty Carroll, was always the favorite among the Republican majority (sorry Carrie O’Malley). Ms. Carroll is technically DTS but runs with the Irvine right wingers. That said, her work on the school board has been decidedly non-partisan
So I’m watching heads explode on social media with various folks blasting Khan for her vote. I half expect the party to pass a resolution condemning her vote at the next meeting which will be … awkward given that Khan’s accusation of bullying from a party vice chair remains unresolved and unmentioned at meetings, and this vice chair is also a co-chair of the resolutions committee. Khan has been threated — by this same party leader — with recall just six weeks after taking office for appointing a Republican commissioner while her Democratic council colleague has had a Republican commissioner for two years without the same threat. So the long knives have been out for Khan for some time.
Democrats had a chance last November to not only avoid this outcome by electing Ed Pope, a former teacher and military vet who led the fight against Measure B’s Vet’s cemetery land swap. Pope was the only Democrat running. He did not pursue the DPOC endorsement because he was told he wouldn’t get it because he was an “Agranista,” a derogatory term for a political figure some/many in the party feel is no longer relevant (until Measure B won a resounding and decisive victory). Pope got more votes than any other candidate running for city council but was dramatically outspent by Republican Don Wagner (who didn’t want to be mayor but needed the title as a platform to run for Supervisor) and massive amounts of developer dollars in the form of IEs.
Democrats had a chance to keep Wagner in the Mayor’s chair by electing Loretta Sanchez to the third district county supervisor’s seat. Sanchez beat Wagner in Irvine and did well in Tustin. But Democrats failed her in Orange, Yorba Linda, Villa Park and Anaheim Hills. When barely one of every four voters bothers to turn out and Republicans always vote in special elections, things would have stayed the same in Irvine and we’d have a second Democrat on the Supervisor’s dais.
The reality in Irvine is it’s less about D’s and R’s as it is pro-developer and anti-developer. Former Mayor Beth Krom chimed in on the criticism against Khan to say a special election isn’t a given for a Democrat due to the amount of money developers would have poured into a race to elect another pro-developer council member.
Over on the weekend open thread blog, Greg Diamond suggests Lauren Johnson-Norris would have won a special election had it been called and that she enjoyed strong support from the DPOC. LJN got the party’s endorsement when the rules on endorsements were suspended to endorse both she and Farrah Khan by acclamation. I’m not entirely sure either would have had the needed 60% to qualify for the endorsement. And where was Greg when Pope was on the ballot?
Perhaps he should stick to writing television reviews.
Again, we had a chance for a blue majority in November. Some in the party leadership were disappointed Pope didn’t apply for the endorsement just so they could refuse to give it to him.
In watching all this criticism of Khan go down, I’m reminded about a short speech Diana Lee Carey made to the DPOC in 2017 asking how many in the room have been elected to city councils or school boards. Not many hands went up. She referenced how when you’re elected, you have to work with the other side to get things done, especially when on the minority. And she’s right. If people are going to draw and quarter Khan, where are the torches for Melissa Fox on the cemetery issue (it would have been under construction by now at ARDA), or ones for Jose Moreno in Anaheim with his support for Tom Tait’s agenda, or Letita Clark working with the GOP Majority in Tustin on issues? The outrage is selective based on who the council member is which is why Jordan Brandman is regularly criticized and Moreno is not.
So Carroll’s on the council. Shea is mayor and is as weak as he’s ever been. Emile Haddad didn’t have to whip out his checkbook and City Manager John Russo can likely start going home again at 3PM; we are 18 months from a new election which will have a large voter turnout. If Irvine Democrats want that council majority, let someone come forward and run for Mayor. Let someone come forward and challenge Carroll. Fox is running for assembly so he seat is up for grabs.
I did sign the petition calling for a special election. I did max my political contributions to Farrah Khan in 2018 and will do so again in 2022. Do I expect every elected leader to vote as I’d like? No. That’s not realistic.