There are no polls yet to show whether the mailer (pdf) Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris circulated about city council “gang candidate” Johnathon Ervin has had an impact on the race.
But now the polling waters will be further muddied by the release of a new mailer (pdf) which purports to be a Democratic Party ad sponsored by two members of the Lancaster city council that denounces “Dishonest John” Ervin.
The mailer is a fraud and has been denounced by the two politicians it features.
So, what’s going on in Lancaster politics these days?
Nine candidates are vying for two open seats held by white incumbents on the five-person city council. Sandra Johnson, born in Chile, is the only non-white middle-aged male on the council.
The economically depressed Antelope Valley, home to both Lancaster and Palmdale in the northern reaches of Los Angeles County, has a history of racial intolerance. Lancaster’s Latino population grew around 58% between 2000 and 2010, while its white population dropped from 62.8% to 49.6%.
In December, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney tossed out the November Palmdale city council election results when no Latinos were elected, again, in a city where around 38% are Latino. He did away with at-large voting and ordered new June elections by district.
A two-year federal investigation of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department last year found deputies regularly harassed minority groups in the Antelope Valley, unlawfully detaining them, using excessive force and conducting illegal searches.
The mayor’s attack on Ervin, an Air Force veteran who served in the Middle East, featured a picture of the council candidate at a 2012 rally in response to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida under the headline, “Anti-Law Enforcement Candidate Johnathon Ervin Attacks Our Lancaster Deputy Sheriffs.”
The mailer says Ervin wants to “make Lancaster a magnet for street gangs and section 8 housing abuse once again.” It warns, “If he is on the council he will know about on-going operations to fight the gangs. When he passes this information to his friends, the safety of our Deputies and our families will be in jeopardy.”
It implores the electorate to “VOTE AGAINST gang candidate Johnathon Ervin!”
Ervin is a senior field engineer at Raytheon who has served on the Muroc Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees on Edwards Air Force Base and the Lancaster planning commission.
He was NOT kicked off the planning commission for “CORRUPTION,” as the second mailer declares, nor did he plead the Fifth when questioned about a bribe. This political advertisement includes endorsements of two other candidates, Oscar Mejia and Jordan Campbell, on what is known in the trade as a slate mailer. They said they know nothing about the ad.
Hillel Aron at LA Weekly wrote a primer last year about the “seedy world” of slate mailers put out by “bottom-feeders—fake consultants.” He called it a “subterranean industry of sending fake endorsements to voters’ homes” and gave marketing and advertising consultant Tom Kaptain a special shout out.
Kaptain, who told Aron he knows “every councilman in every small town in California,” knows folks in Lancaster and, according to the Antelope Valley Times, owns Democratic Voters Choice, the organization that produced the anti-Ervin slate mailer.