Calls to action
As a senior in high school, I am not yet old enough to vote: however, this year I was able to get involved in a political campaign. It was a beneficial learning experience for me, so I want to encourage other young people to do the same in the future.
On Oct. 27, I volunteered at prospective Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s campaign headquarters to fulfill a requirement of my AP U.S. government and politics class. I was assigned to a phone where I spent over four hours calling local citizens to provide them with information about Spitzer’s past accomplishments, and future goals, if elected. My purpose was to encourage people to vote, and to find out which DA candidate they planned on supporting in the upcoming election.
After a brief training, I began to make calls, though I worried that I would make a mistake. However, as I progressed, I developed more confidence. Although many voters did not answer, I was able to leave a pre-recorded message by Spitzer providing them with information about his campaign. Happily, several people confirmed support for Spitzer and others informed me that they had already voted for him by mail-in ballot. Others were clearly irritated by my call, and one man even angrily shouted that he would never support Spitzer and called me a rude name. Similarly, others hung up while I was mid-sentence. After making 534 calls, I had learned to tolerate rejection and had developed confidence in speaking to a variety of people. Although every call was not perfectly executed or completely effective, I was able to share important election information with those who were willing to listen.
Given my experience volunteering to help in a political campaign, I want to encourage other young people to get involved by helping a politician, or supporting a cause that they value. Young people can have an impact in the political sphere by participating in campaigning, attending debates, and making citizens aware of candidate’s policies and proposed bills. Voters can support the younger generation’s efforts by taking time to participate in a respectful conversation, even if they do not agree with the content of the message.
Though I could not vote this year, I felt proud to be able to participate in the political process. In the end, it was exciting to hear that Todd Spitzer had won his campaign!
In the loop
I want to tell you about a project volunteers in OPA have been working on for over 50 years.
There’s been an idea brewing that we could connect four regional parks that surround Orange Park Acres with a loop trail. A few years ago, The Irvine Company gave our vision a big boost. It agreed to our trail recommendations, which included connecting Peters Canyon to Irvine Regional Park when it downsized the Santiago Hills II development. The best news was the company agreed to retain the historic Puma Ridge Trail.
Once these important connections were mapped, the idea of the East Orange Loop Trail was born. Several of us started to work on the details and identified three missing links: the trail along Windes Drive to Santiago Oaks Park, The Colony Trail that will connect the El Modena Hills Open Space, and a bridge over Chapman Avenue.
The entire 10.5 mile Loop Trail is within the city limits of Orange. Thousands of residents will be within walking and riding distance of the trail. It will also be a recreation destination for the entire area.
OC Parks and the county are supportive because it connects four regional parks in East Orange. The State of California is watching as well. Nothing like this has been done before, especially in such a densely populated part of the state.
Cal Poly Pomona’s Architecture and Planning Program has agreed to make a professional plan for the East Orange Loop Trail. Once completed, this plan will be used to apply for grant funding.
Orange Park Acres
Mark Murphy was just elected mayor of Orange. When he leaves his council seat on the dais to preside as mayor, his seat will be filled by appointment. The three candidates running for the Orange City Council who received the most votes were Kimberlee Nichols, Chip Monaco and Betty Valencia. The top two recipients will become city council members, chosen directly by the voters. Since Betty Valencia came in third, and to honor the votes of the residents, I urge the entire council to appoint Betty Valencia to fill the opening left by Mark Murphy’s election as our mayor.
Although election results were initially somewhat of a roller coaster ride, ballots have now been counted and the will of the City of Orange voters has been made clear. The third seat on Orange’s City Council must be appointed to Betty Valencia.
As the council is tasked with appointing a member for the third seat, it is imperative that the candidate who earned the third highest number of votes, and thus chosen as the next in line to serve, fill that seat. To demonstrate that the council is indeed serving the citizens of Orange first and foremost, they will forgo partisanship and antiquated norms to award the third seat to its rightful owner, Betty Valencia.
I have sincere doubts that the council, as it sits, will listen to the voters. Unfortunately, I became painfully aware of this ugly truth in a city council meeting earlier this year, on April 10. As I sat amongst visitors to our city, I was appalled by their disrespect of local governance. Of course, this behavior paled in comparison to how disheartened I felt following the council’s decision.
As tired and cynical I may be, I am unwavering in my belief and insistence that our local leaders are elected to serve us, the people and voters of Orange. The City of Orange and our city council need Betty Valencia to occupy the third seat, her rightful seat. Regardless of their choice, I will continue to hold our elected officials accountable and I am hopeful that in that regard, I am in good company.
This is my first “letter to the editor” at the tender age of 73, no less! I’m writing in support of the appointment of Betty Valencia to the Orange City Council. I believe in her so much that I canvassed for her, something I’ve never done for a council candidate. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not usually even aware of who’s running for the council.
She has stellar qualifications. She has lived in Orange for 17 years and is a doctoral student in Chapman’s leadership studies. She will bring much-needed diversity to represent all of Orange. I have been so impressed with her positive attitude and ability to relate to people. She’s really special.
She is currently in third place in the vote count. She will be a wonderful addition to the city council.
This is a letter from an Orange citizen to the Orange City Council. City council members have important jobs and work hard to represent the wonderful citizens of Orange. In January 2019, Councilman Mark Murphy will begin his new role as mayor. It is my hope that the city council will honor the over 10,000 citizens of Orange who voted to elect Beatriz “Betty” Valencia to Orange City Council. As she has gained the third highest number of votes, it is only logical that the third vacant seat should be filled by Betty.
Betty has given her all to this city during and before this election cycle, and even if she is ultimately not appointed to city council, she will continue to work hard to support the members of her community. Betty is the one I would want in my corner to advocate for me—she knows how to take charge of a room, while simultaneously listening to every single person in that room. Her passion and dedication, mixed with her capacity to put a smile on everyone’s face, is exactly the kind of responsive leadership that the City of Orange needs!
The responsibilities of the city council include representing the diverse members of its city. Creating a city council with all like-minded people defeats the very purpose of having a city council because they would not be representing the interests of all the citizens. I humbly ask that you honor the voters, and the democratic process, appointing Betty Valencia to Orange City Council.
Sneha Kohli Mathur
The people of Orange have spoken! As Betty Valencia came in a definite third in the Orange City Council election, it is evident that she was first choice for City Council for many residents of Orange. It would be logical for the council to appoint Betty Valencia to the seat being vacated by Councilmember Mark Murphy as he moves on to the mayor’s seat. The appointment of Betty Valencia would save taxpayers of Orange the cost of having a special election, and she would provide appropriate representation of the Orange community.
Bonnie, Joel and Leslie Robinson
Congratulations to Betty Valencia and Team Valencia for all their hard work and garnering 10,675 votes in the Orange City Council election. Betty is an amazingly accomplished and truly inspirational individual, and I’m honored to have been among the over 10,000 Orange residents who voted for Betty.
However, I’m stunned to have learned that in spite of obtaining the third highest number of votes, there’s a chance that Betty Valencia may not be appointed to serve on the Orange City Council. I cannot believe that the members of the Orange City Council would even consider overriding the election results and the will of the voters to appoint someone other than Betty Valencia to fill the seat vacated by Mark Murphy’s election to mayor.
Any attempts by council members to appoint someone other than Betty Valencia would be seen as a tremendous violation of trust, and a blatant attempt to subvert fair election results. I simply can’t imagine that our elected officials in the City of Orange would want to be perceived as subverting democracy in such a manner.
On behalf of all those who voted for Betty Valencia, I urge the members of the Orange City Council to listen to the will of the people and appoint Betty Valencia to serve.
Robyn L. Class
I am a resident and homeowner in Orange, where my wife and I are raising our two biracial sons. I write to endorse Betty Valencia’s appointment to the seat soon to be vacated by Mark Murphy.
There are two primary reasons why the council should appoint Betty. First, the present council is not representative of Orange. Orange itself is the picture of a vibrant, diverse city: over half non-white, relatively young with a median age of 33, and a wide-ranging economic base and business community (Orange at a Glance, 2016). It is also more politically diverse than its historical reputation suggests, with Republican voter registration only slightly outpacing Democratic, and with significant numbers of “no party preference” voters.
The most recent council stands in sharp contrast to Orange’s diversity. It is dominated by three white, right-wing members (Murphy, Whitaker, Nichols) whose most infamous work in 2018 was passing a so-called “anti-sanctuary” measure, a racist, Trump-like political stunt that had no legal basis, nothing to do with Orange city operations, and only served to divide and harm residents while exposing the city to legal and financial risk.
Appointing Betty would help make the council more representative of today’s Orange and, I hope, keep the council focused on providing good local governance instead of wasting time and resources on divisive political issues.
The second reason is more direct: Betty won third place in the recent election, garnering over 10,000 votes and beating other, more experienced politicians (including Jon Dumitru, a former councilmember). Betty is in third place, fair and square, and she has thus earned the appointment by the will of the people. If, instead, the council chooses to appoint someone who did not run, that would only underscore how unrepresentative the council is of today’s Orange, while also defeating the clear, democratic will of the people.
I have worked in Orange for 15 years, and moved into the city 15 months ago. This election cycle was my first experience actually voting in Orange, and I’m quite dismayed, though not entirely surprised, by the process. During my years of interacting with council members and department employees, I cannot say I’ve perceived much sense of community service. Obstructionist, self-serving cronyism seems to be the pervasive ethos that permeates Orange city government.
Following the election, we’re facing a serious ethical issue. One council member decided to run for mayor, yet, because his term had not yet ended, he was able to run while holding onto the seat. Now that he won that race, he must vacate his council seat, leaving a third slot open on city council. It would logically follow that the third vote-getter in the race would be placed in that seat. But, apparently, that’s not how things are done here in Orange. The council cronies get to appoint someone to that seat (or hold an expensive special election). Neither makes any sense to me.
All I can conclude, is that those in power here in Orange are not interested in representing the will of the voters. Frankly, this is a form of voter disenfranchisement and should NOT be tolerated. The city should do the right thing and appoint the candidate who came in third in the race to the third opening on the council.
Pamela Reed Presnall
I have been watching the vote count totals for our city council as they have been slowly trickling in over the past 20-plus days. It has been thrilling to see Betty Valencia, a candidate that I strongly supported, steadily climb into third place. These results show that her vision for Orange resonated with more than 10,000 residents as strongly as it resonated with me.
My excitement has quickly turned to frustration as rumors have spread that the city council will be appointing someone other than Betty for the open seat, possibly choosing someone who wasn’t even on the ballot. This move would state loud and clear that city leadership is holding their seats to pursue their own interests, not to serve the people as they were elected to do.
I am disgusted at the idea that they can so easily ignore the voting public. This is as tyrannical as it is undemocratic. I urge city council to do right by the citizens of Orange and allow them to be represented by the people they voted for.
On Nov. 6, I, like other residents of Orange, went to my local polling location to exercise my right to vote. For the first time ever, I was excited to cast my vote for the city council race because I was confident that I was voting for someone who would represent all Orange residents, not just some of us. My vote went to Betty Valencia, an inclusive and collaborative leader. To my dismay, I have learned that while Betty was among the top three vote-getters, she needs to be appointed by the city council to serve.
I urge our city council leaders to honor the voters of Orange and appoint Betty Valencia to Orange City Council. Please join me in asking them to commit to appointing Betty. It is time our city council had a new voice and a councilwoman who will fight for all of us.
Karyn M. Mendoza
We are 32-year residents of the City of Orange. We have had professional careers, educated our children and participated in community organizations in Orange. We have always supported diversity in our community, and believe that our local government, schools and all civic institutions best serve our local population if they reflect the diversity of the people who live in our city.
In our recent Orange City Council election, the two highest vote-getters filled the two open council vacancies. Now that a third seat is vacant, the most democratic way to fill that seat is by appointing the third highest vote-getter. In the election, the third highest vote-getter is Betty Valencia. To fail to appoint Betty to the vacant seat is to ignore the will of the people, and to deprive our city of a highly qualified individual. Betty is a long-time resident of Orange, a successful businesswoman and a highly educated, Ph.D. candidate in leadership studies at Chapman University. She has the language and cultural background that allows her to communicate with the vast majority of the diverse residents of Orange.
Judy Weissberg-Ortiz, Esq.
Betty Valencia is a longtime resident of this city and is one of the most talented people we know. She has overcome obstacles that most of us cannot comprehend and truly understands what hard work is. She pulled herself up by bootstraps she didn’t have, and has been giving back to her community since she was 17 years old. This community work not only shaped her views, but it, along with a master’s degree in organizational leadership, has also made her a very experienced and effective leader.
Betty’s third place showing in the 2018 Orange City Council race was a tremendous feat, since she did not enter the race until April and had never run for office before. She has the support of many Orange voters, and we think the city council would be wise to acknowledge that. Betty worked hard and continued in the face of xenophobia and hate. Her team knocked on as many doors in this city as possible, because she wants to hear from everyone, even those who disagree with her. She is humble enough not to pretend she has all the answers, and wise enough to know that true leaders spend more time listening than talking. We don’t want council members who think they know everything. We want them to search for and promote the best solutions.
To look at our council and mayor, one would think that it is a requirement to be born in Orange to be eligible to run for office here. This provincial attitude has led to close-mindedness, poor leadership and ignorance of what is needed. Group think is a death knell for any organization. Most people who live in Orange were not born here, but rather have chosen to live here. We have valuable experiences and ideas. There are many talented people here; there is no need to recycle city council members.
Melanie Weir, Orange
Robert Hancock, Orange
Stan Cameron, Orange
Jen and Jim Pijloo, Orange
Ed. Note: The Sentry also received letters on this topic from Harry Baker, Rachel Neeley Price, Jennie Sloan, Marci Band, Amanda Wortman, Connie McGuire, MacKenzie Crigger, Eric Rath, Jane Canseco and Ceresa Salter.