I am a proud Democrat. I vote Democrat, give money to the Democrats, walk precincts for Democrats. I also worked 17 years in Palmdale for a large aerospace firm (chew on that for a bit). I want to say it was about 2011-2012 the program I was working on was rumored to be moving to Oklahoma. If you’ve never been to Oklahoma, it is a bleak, featureless landscape, brutally cold in the winter and miserably hot in the summer. And these weren’t just idle rumors. The upper management of my program were openly talking about the move as being a done deal.
And then it wasn’t. I mean, one day the talk stopped and that move, seemingly so certain, never happened. Now, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee at that time was Buck McKeon, the Republican congressman for Santa Clarita. I have always believed that Buck singlehandedly told the Air Force that move was not going to happen, enabling me to continue living in our idyllic community, to this day. Now, I probably disagreed with Buck on virtually all issues, but I voted for him in 2012 and would have continued to vote for him (and him alone) had he continued to seek re-election. Because when you get down to it, what we want, and expect, from our public servants is, well, service.
In 2020, in the depths of the COVID outbreak, in late November I realized I did not have a property tax bill (long story why, probably my fault). Normally this would not have been a problem getting a replacement bill, but because of the pandemic, the assessor offices were closed, no one was manning the phone lines, and my attempts at email were going unanswered. Getting a little desperate, and knowing this was an L.A. County thing, I called Supervisor Kathryn Barger. I got a hold of one of her staff, who took my information down. Now, the Board of Supervisors is ostensibly non-partisan, but Ms. Barger is a Republican. She tends to vote as you would expect a Republican would vote. But the very next day someone from the assessor’s office called me, got my information, and a new bill arrived a couple of days later, allowing me to pay the tax on time and not incur a penalty. Now that is constituent service. So guess what, I vote for Ms. Barger now.
I say all this because during the same pandemic my wife lost her job. And as you recall the Employment Development Department was a mess. You couldn’t get through, the phone lines were swamped. If you did get through the call would disconnect. It was just awful. Since this was a state issue we called our assemblywoman’s office – Suzette Martinez Valladares. They took down our information and then, nothing. Never heard from her again. We eventually got through to EDD and got the problem solved, but with no help from Ms. Valladares. Months later we got a survey from her, asking about our experience. When we told her the office did nothing, there was some kind of weak response followed by more of that nothing.
Think about it. Had we gotten a little help from her, instead of silence, there might have been two Democrats who voted for her this last go-around. What did she lose by, 500 votes?
If 250 Democrats had been personally helped by her office, and decided constituent service trumps ideology, she would have won re-election. All it came down to was constituent service.