by Michael D. Robbins
April 12, 2016
Updated April 20, 2016 with campaign spending data.
The April 12, 2016 City of El Segundo General Municipal Election preliminary results are in. The ballots were counted in the City Council Chamber at City Hall after the polls closed.
For the three City Council seats up for election, Challengers Drew Boyles, Carol Pirsztuk, and Don Brann are the winners. Incumbents Marie Fellhauer and Dave Atkinson are the losers.
Losers Marie Fellhauer and Dave Atkinson were caught up in a perfect storm that led to their defeat. The police and fire unions were out to defeat them because the City Council did not offer them as big raises as what they demanded during their long and protracted labor contract negotiations. The fiscal conservatives, who push back against the police and fire unions’ excessive and unsustainable pay and pensions, were out to defeat Fellhauer and Atkinson because of their poor judgement, poor decisions, and poor behavior on City Council. And all three challenger candidates – Drew Boyles, Carol Pirsztuk, and Don Brann – ran very strong campaigns, with Boyles and Brann each far out-spending all the other candidates combined.
Boyles came in first place with 2,330 votes after spending a whopping $27,538, and Brann came in third place with 1,439 votes after spending an even larger $29,485.09. These figures are in addition to the $39,247.50 spent by the police and firefighter unions in our local election ($19,033.50 ESPOA plus $20,214.00 ESFA), campaigning for City Council candidates Drew Boyles, Don Brann, and Carol Pursztuk, and for the Measure B tax hike, to provide more tax money for their pay and pension increases.
Carol Pirsztuk came in at a high second place with 2,135 votes after spending only $3,311 and walking the entire city door-to-door.
Marie Fellhauer came in fourth place with 1,238 votes after spending $13,264.31. And Dave Atkinson came in fifth (last) place with 692 votes after spending $527.53 and spending much of his time campaigning door-to-door for the Measure B tax hike.
Another winner in the City Council race, who didn’t spend a dime, was Marie Fellhauer’s newly adopted young baby. Fellhauer carried that baby along the campaign trail as if it was a stage prop, apparently hoping to gain votes. But that may have backfired. Some voters felt sorry for the baby and wondered where its mother would be between her job as an LAPD police officer and City Council meetings if she got reelected.
The following table summarizes the preliminary vote counts and the campaign spending for each City Council candidate and for Measure B, the 50 percent increase in the Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from 8 to 12 percent.
|CANDIDATE/ MEASURE||VOTES||CANDIDATE SPENDING||UNION SPENDING||TOTAL SPENDING|
- Union Spending and Total Spending columns are higher than the amounts shown, due to total ESPOA and total ESFA campaign spending being substantially higher than the amounts they itemized in their FPPC Forms for the three City Council candidates and for Measure B.
- The Union Spending amounts for candidates assign the entire cost of a slate mailer to all three candidates rather than one third of the cost to each candidate, on the basis that each candidate gets all or most of the benefit of the entire cost of the mailer.
- The amounts are rounded up or down to the nearest dollar to improve readability.
Unchallenged incumbents, City Clerk Tracy Weaver and City Treasurer Crista Binder, easily won re-election as they only needed one vote each to be guaranteed re-election, and they can vote for themselves. Incumbents running unopposed normally get a large majority of the votes, especially if they are perceived as doing a decent job.
Measure B passed, imposing a 50% hike in the Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), from 8% to 12%. Apparently, the most persuasive argument in favor of Measure B was that El Segundo voters would not have to pay it, and that it is paid by the hotel customers like the sales tax is paid by store customers. Voters took the bait of a “free lunch” that someone else is forced to pay for. However, the TOT tax raises the price to the customer for hotel rooms, and raising prices reduces sales. Fewer hotel customers will result in fewer customers and sales for other local businesses.
Perhaps Kip Haggerty said it best in his letter to the editor in the April 7, 2016 El Segundo Herald:
“To my dismay, I see the City Council has come back to us yet again with the immoral proposition of gouging hotel customers for the crime of not being us. The argument in favor is based on the bromide “every one else is doing it.” Anything higher than the sales tax rate is just plain wrong and I hope we have the collective wisdom to vote it down again.”
Here are the preliminary election results itemized by precinct and by vote-by-mail or precinct ballots:
Screen of laptop PC that was used by the City Clerk’s staff to update the vote count on the large screen display on the wall of the City Council Chamber. Photo ©2016 by Michael D. Robbins.
Screen shot image from the City Clerk’s office of the final preliminary vote count displayed in the City Council Chamber on election night.
This preliminary vote count does not include:
- Provisional ballots cast at the polls that need to have the voter’s signatures verified, and
- Vote-By-Mail ballots that have not been received or have not had the voter’s signature verified.
543 Ballots Remain to be Counted for the April 12, 2016 El Segundo General Municipal Election. They will be canvased and counted on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at City Hall in the City council Chamber.