This is the fifth article in the series, “All Politics is Local.”
On top of the social media attacks that Manhattan Beach Unified School District Board candidates Mike Welsh, Christy Barnes, and Johnny Uriostegui (the “Trifecta“) have been experiencing, on Thursday a spectacularly awful article dropped from Easy Reader & Peninsula, a local Manhattan Beach publication. Easy Reader is a weekly paper, but they strategically sat on this hit piece and had it publish six days before the midterms. This gave no avenue for the candidates to respond to the attacks before Tuesday, November 8, when many would be voting or dropping off their completed ballots.
Some might see this as classic opposition politics, but the majority see it as completely below the belt. This overly-long tome regurgitated personal information about the grassroots candidates, background information that was decades old, legal troubles that were frivolous at the worst, and murky at best, and personal choices that had little-to-nothing to do with these candidates’ run for school board or their ability to serve on the board. The article was neither serious, nor informative. It was as if the writer just wanted to projective vomit on readers, and essentially that is what he did.
Through the nation, and especially this state, parents are demanding change and a departure from the status quo embedded within their local councils and school boards. If the Easy Reader article shows us anything, it is that the engineers behind the attacks on the Trifecta–primarily MB United and its slate of candidates–wish to maintain the status quo and apparently will do so at any cost. They clearly have their useful minions willing to write smear pieces and do whisper campaigns on social media and local publications in order to tear down the opposition, rather than build up the community. All the while decrying how “Partisan” politics has become.
In this Daily Breeze (another local Southern California beach cities publication) letter to the editor, Michael Jenkins does not mention the Trifecta by name, but since he calls out “Hadley and her candidates,” (Suzanne Hadley is running for re-election to the Manhattan Beach City Council and has endorsed the Trifecta), it is a given.
Daily Breeze Letter to Editor-Michael Jenkins on MB Council and Elections (Credit: Jennifer Oliver O’Connell)
Candidate Kira Davis (and also RedState’s Deputy Managing Editor) is running for her Capistrano Unified School District Board, and has also been suffering baseless attacks from her union-backed opponent, including a racially-tinged darkening of her skin on their oppo flier.
Attack Ad on Kira Davis for Capistrano School Board
Davis does a terrific takedown of the charges lodged against her on the flier, and makes some salient points about the whole “culture wars” and politics supposedly infecting local races.
A few of Davis’ points she made in her video.
“[Reads from the flier: More interested in culture wars, pitting stakeholders against each other]
“He [opponent Michael Parham] represents a stakeholder, and that’s the unions.
“Unions have spent, what did I just read, [2.8 million dollars] to run against school board races–school board candidates in the state. What the unions are spending on winning extra seats on our school board, they could have fixed every school in California for that. So who is pitting whom against the stakeholders?
“It’s so hilarious that the progressive Left, they launch culture wars every day–this whole thing is a culture war. It’s only war to them when we respond.
“You guys brought the war to our doorstep.”
The union-supported and financially rich MB United opposition is waging a war against the Trifecta, but the Trifecta is fighting back.
The information on candidate Barnes released in the Easy Reader article was particularly beyond the pale. Information that had no business being exposed, and that brought up fear, insecurity, and questions from her teenager, her preteen, and her young child that Barnes was now required to answer in a way they could understand. This gives a clear example on why children are not meant to be exposed to certain information until they have the maturity, context, and critical thinking skills to properly absorb it. This attack is quite on brand, for the people who think there is nothing wrong with teaching inappropriate sexual education to children and supplying them with sexually-explicit literature.
After the article landed, instead of further attacks and shunning from the Manhattan Beach community, Barnes has instead been receiving outpourings of support, and requests from people wanting to do more for her campaign.
Christy Barnes-Social Media Thank You For Support
From my interview with the Trifecta, I learned that the majority of Manhattan Beach residents simply want to see that community feel-and focus on families-first-returned to its governing entities. The attacks lodged against Welsh, Barnes, and Uriostegui and their families do not represent a focus on families, nor are they the views of most Manhattan Beach voters.
In launching the Easy Reader hit piece, the Trifecta’s opponents may well have jumped the shark and inadvertently weighted the election in the Trifecta’s favor. But, that is for those who are still casting their votes in Manhattan Beach to decide.
Hear Welsh, Barnes, and Uriostegui discuss why they chose to run for the Board. The points they outline had nothing to do with banning books or bringing in right-wing ideology, and much to do with returning to actual classical education, putting parents and families first, and financial accountability. As Mike Welsh said,
“We don’t want to institute new rules. We want to enforce what’s currently on the books.”
I asked why they chose to describe themselves as the “Trifecta,” and gained some insight from Uriostegui about how their opponents tried to use this against them.
When they recognized how effective the Trifecta’s strategies were, their opponents decided to adopt them for their campaigns. But while running as a unit helped to bring the focus to the change the Trifecta desires to bring, as Barnes wisely surmised, it’s less about being in lockstep, and more about bringing diverse views to the current status quo.
“I think there definitely needs to be some diversity on the board, and I don’t see it right now.”
RedState has presented information and insight on where the Manhattan Beach School Board went off the rails from factoring in the parents and the community in its decisions, and the Trifecta mentions some of those matters that were exposed. However, the campaign to pass Measure A this summer was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for the candidates and many of the Manhattan Beach residents.
Measure A called for an injection of a new parcel tax to increase school funding. That tax would have been THREE times the amount of current Manhattan Beach property taxes-in a place where the average price for a home is $1 million. In these inflationary times, that’s a huge ask.
The initiative was on the June 7 primary ballot. Not only did the voters reject the measure 70 percent to 30 percent, but many residents began to question how the Board was really allocating money and the lack of transparency in this. The Trifecta discusses not only the money spent by the MBUSD Board on the campaign to get Measure A passed, but the poor planning and sleight of hand used to try and force this measure through.
I asked the Trifecta to give their closing arguments on why the voters of Manhattan Beach should choose them on their ballot. For those still planning to vote, let their statements help you factor your decision-and not the attacks lodged on social media or by the singularly targeted Easy Reader article.