Mailers Signal A Turn To The Negative

LA MESA -- With less than two weeks to go to election day, things are turning a bit rough in the Jewel of the Hills.

Mayor Art Madrid Friday began circulating a direct mail piece that extolled his virtues on one side while castigating his opponent on the other under a headline of "The Real Dr. A."

The mailer drew instant condemnation from City Council member Mark Arapostathis.

"His claims are simply untrue,'' Arapostathis said.
And the tactic stirred some instant rebuke from local residents, including one U.S. Marine who expressed grave disappointment in Madrid for turning to negative attacks.

In a letter he described as talking "Marine to Marine,'' local resident Bryan Loorya wrote to Madrid, who also served in the Marine Corps, saying:

"Quite frankly, campaign material entitled, "The Real Dr. A" is not only beneath you, it is precisely the vitriolic and immature behavior that has so disenchanted voters to historic - and globally embarrassing - lows. Whatever your campaign manager may have told you, I will give you the straight scoop Marine to Marine - this behavior repulses people. It does not draw people to your cause. It is not the beacon of leadership. It is the siren of desperation."

Madrid fired right back at his fellow Marine: "Marine to Marine, I'm disappointed you didn't do your research.''

Madrid said every accusation on his mailer was "fully documented from the record.''

In his mailer, Madrid uses an accusatory tone in saying Arapostathis demonstrated poor judgement in a number of ways, including injecting partisan politics into what is meant to be a non-partisan race.

"Dr. A aggressively sought and received the endorsement of a specific political party,'' Madrid's mailer charged, "thereby disenfranchising 21,648 La Mesa voters not registered'' with the Republican Party.

Arapostathis, like Madrid a registered Republican, said he simply filled out a questionnaire from the Republican Party and was rewarded with an endorsement and a donation to his campaign. "Art has had the same endorsement in the past,'' Arapostathis said. "But not this time.''

Madrid also accuses Arapostathis of having "missed 104 League of California Cities'' meetings. Arapostathis points out that the mayor and city staff regularly attended those meetings so the rest of the council left attending most of those meetings to the mayor.  Madrid acknowledged council members didn't attend many of those meetings "but he's the one running for mayor,'' Madrid said of Arapostathis.

Madrid also attempted to use a number of instances, including the council's vote to remove Madrid from the Board of Directors of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), as allegations of wrong-doing or mismanagement on Arapostathis' part. 

Arapostathis called those charges in the mailer complete misrepresentations of the facts. 

Madrid defended the mailer and again challenged Arapostathis to debate him directly at length over issues and to compare their resumes in public office.

But Arapostathis, a long-time second-grade teacher with a doctorate and a history of running a community theater organization, said Madrid's behavior has persuaded him that giving him a public forum to make baseless charges and accusations will sully a race that is largely played out as candidates walk the neighborhoods and meet with voters one on one. Arapostathis has repeatedly said as a teacher and community leader he would not participate in negative campaigning. Arapostathis is also among a group of educators who this year launched the La Mesa Arts Academy, an innovative arts program for middle schoolers in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.

"His advisers may be telling him to stick to the high-ground," Madrid said Saturday, "but I challenge him to meet me face-to-face and let the people decide.''

While Arapostathis has demurred at having a formal debate, he has agreed to an extensive interview with La Mesa Today. Madrid at first agreed to sit for a similar videotaped interview, but later recanted, saying his "kitchen cabinet'' advised against an open-ended interview. "I want a full debate,'' he said.

Madrid's mailer was the second controversial piece of mail to hit the Jewel of the Hills in recent weeks. Late last week another direct mail card, paid for by a shadowy group known only as the Public Safety Advocates, attacked council candidate Mary England for what it said was her poor stewardship of Lemon Grove when she served on that city's council in the past. Mailed without clearly identifying the group, its officers or the source of its funds, it is the kind of attack piece that has become more common in even very local politics in recent years.

England did not return calls for comment on that mailer.

In the mayoral race, it is not yet clear whether "going negative'' will pay off in a contest that clearly features two men with long local histories. It could be seen as a sign that Madrid, amid his seventh mayoral run knows he has a unique challenge on his hands this time. In the past, Madrid has not faced challengers who, like Arapostathis, have had ties that run deep and wide in the community. Though Madrid's more than 40 years in local government will trump any challenger, Arapostathis has decades of unpaid community service, directing young La Mesans in local theater and generations of the city's young families have sent their children through Arapostathis' grammar school classes.

Arapostathis has also had eight years of service on the City Council and has won the unanimous endorsement of the other three council members who spent much of the last four years fighting with Madrid on both public and personal issues. In fact, Madrid's mailing repeats a phrase he has brought up a number of times, asserting the two choices for mayor are "essentially different.'' But with both having long, largely unassailable records of public service and sacrifice for the city, it could be argued the only real difference here is personality and style. On that front, the two clearly differ.

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Tags: Arapostathis, Art Madrid, Bryan Loorya, City Council, City of La Mesa, Dr. A, Government, La Mesa Mayor, La Mesa Today, La Mesa elections, More…La Mesa news, La Mesa newspaper, La Mesa politics, League of California Cities, Madrid, Marine Corps, Mark Arapostathis, Mary England, San Diego Board of Directors, The Real Dr. A

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Comment by Batman on October 24, 2014 at 12:58am

The only way Dr. Mark is going to win this race is if he runs against Art Madrid the same way Madrid ran against Fred Nagel in 1990. For those few of you who remember that far back Art rode his bicycle all over La Mesa and spoke face to face with almost every resident of the city. Dr. Mark should do the same with his golf cart, if he has the time. Art Madrid, I believe, was retired in 1990 and had plenty of time to campaign.

What bothers me most is Dr. Mark vacating his council seat to run for mayor. I still suspect he may have been talked into running just to leave a seat open for the ultra-liberal candidate who would otherwise have no chance in a one-seat race. I have no evidence to back this up, it's strictly conjecture on my part, but I have seen dirty tricks like this before.

I will be voting for Dr. Mark though. This decision is not out of spite for Madrid, I simply believe Dr. Mark is the best choice this time around.

Comment by Kristin Kjaero on October 23, 2014 at 12:10pm

Amen, Chris!

Kathleen Hedberg said she's only had one sign problem, when RSVP got out of their car without setting the emergency brake, and the car accidentally went over the curb and into her sign. Thankfully nobody was hurt.

Unfortunately sign problems seem to be a part of every election cycle. Over the years, at least three candidates have had multiple signs stolen or destroyed at the corner of LM Blvd and Acacia, and one year someone cut the "Jesus" out of Lisa de Jesus name and left the remaining pieces in front of Madrid's home.

Comment by Gene Carpenter on October 23, 2014 at 11:33am

Oh my gosh, the sign is Gone!!!!! What happened to it?

Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on October 23, 2014 at 8:21am

Gene, signs have been vandalized all over the City.  That's the first one that I've seen of the Mayor's that has been vandalized. I've seen Dr. A's  signs cut into pieces a few times now.  I've seen Guy Mc Whirter's torn down from private property.  Someone's also taken down and destroyed Kathleen Hedberg's signs.  It's not right.  When I ran, my signs were also vandalized.  It's expensive and mean spirited.  Everyone thinks it's an opponent, but I don't think any of the candidates or their supporters would stoop that low, not even the Mayor whom I have zero respect for after the mailer.

I also decided to fact check your claims directly with Dr. A.  You never requested meeting with him.  You emailed about an issue he was legally obligated to stay away from due to a conflict of interest (the charter school).   You have not come to talk to him about anything since then.  Your wife had a conversation with him recently about coyotes though.  

He's had multiple meetings with neighbors who have problems they want to discuss.  I know because some of these people are my neighbors too.  To claim someone is inaccessible because they don't come knocking on your door is ridiculous.  We only know when you have a problem if you reach out to us.    You haven't done that with Dr. A, the one time you did, he couldn't respond because of a conflict of interest, and now you chide him for that. 

The Council hasn't thwarted anything the Mayor has brought up, excepting excessive travel requests and the All American City program which was costly with little or no return being offered.  I think you can look through the minutes and see that for yourself.   When the Mayor has a great idea, we support it, recently it was the request to send a letter on behalf of the City supporting the Secondary Treatment Application for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.     

Comment by chris shea on October 23, 2014 at 7:55am
While I grew up in a household where we were taught never to squander today by saying "I can't wait until" a day in the future, I will say I can't wait for this election to be over. Thankfully I have a new puppy to keep me more occupied with things I can actually remedy than I can the seemingly endless back and forth of personal politics.
I wish blessings on everyone in their endeavors to make La Mesa all it dreams of being.
Comment by Gene Carpenter on October 23, 2014 at 7:54am
Good Question. All I can say to that is that I served and love my Country and I care very much for the rights we Citizens have. I believe that when a person or persons does something like what was done to that sign it is like spitting on the rights we all share. So to the person or persons that did this, know that you are cowardly and
half-grown.
Comment by Jimmy Sanders on October 23, 2014 at 5:35am

How do we know that Gene did not pull the sign down to create a photo op for his favored candidate to play a victim?

Comment by Gene Carpenter on October 22, 2014 at 5:32pm
The reason I support and will continue to support Art Madrid is because when I needed his support he was there for me he couldn't do anything about the decision but he seemed to think it important enough to talk to me about it. I have lived three doors down from Mark for fourteen years. He is a very busy man who I respected. I tried to talk to him once about a problem we were having. He told me why he couldn't help because of the circumstances involved and I respected that also. Did he, after the issue was settled approach me or make any attempt to say I wish I could have helped get the issue settled amicably? No. Would I have respected that and would I likely have already have painted that horrible looking fence in his front yard for him because he is so busy? Hell yes! I enjoy helping people, ask around my block!
Have I seen Mark since, again, who lives three doors up except for taking out his trash and driving away in his golf cart? No. Have I ever seen him out walking? No. Does it bother me that we have a City Councilman that's a neighbor constantly saying in his Political messaging that he's been talking to his neighbors? Yes. Do I think he will have the time to do anything other than constantly be playing catchup? Yes. Will that be effective and benefit La Mesa? I predict it will not. Have I heard from a couple of people not connected to Art that the current City Council does everything it can to oppose anything the Mayor wants to try and get done? Yes, and that that has been going on for some time now.

So to answer your question will I support Art, yes. Did I tell him that I don't support him taking money from Companies or entity's outside of
La Mesa? I already did. I have two choices to make for Mayor Kristine. A next door neighbor who has had zero time or inclination to be bothered by me or Art Madrid who has the time to reach out to people.

You did not acknowledge or comment on Art's sign being bent down and vandalized so that the trio's big huge expensive sign wouldn't be obstructed. What you think of that Kristine?
Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on October 22, 2014 at 3:39pm

Gene, so are you still supporting the Mayor despite the donation from Sempra?  Or are you looking the other way because you like him and then continuing to be critical of Dr. A because he took one from the Lincoln Club?

Personally, I don't have a problem with donations from large companies, or large donations from individuals.  Not everyone has the money to fund their own campaigns.  I prefer to look at what the candidates themselves are saying and how they behave.  Campaign contributions pay a very minor part of my assessment of a candidate.  I self-funded my campaign, but I do not feel that elected office should be the purview of only those who have the money to run using their own finances.   

Comment by Gene Carpenter on October 22, 2014 at 2:35pm

My apologies to Chris, Christine, and especially Craig Maxwell for incorrectly assuming he had been blocked from LMT

Just got back from snapping a photo of where someone vandalized, several steel stakes bent, Art's Political Sign. Happy to see they didn't mess with the really nice signage above it! Really not that easy to get up there and no reason for Homeless to go to the trouble.

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