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Orange County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter

Reinvent Community Spirit, Let Anaheim Lead the Way!

By Craig L. Merrihue

Candidate for Member, City Council; City of Anaheim

This information is provided by the candidate
The following are transcripts from candidate forums for the 2004 Anaheim city council election.
"MY PHILOSOPHY- TO THE KIWANIS CLUB OF GREATER ANAHEIM, 10/21/04

Good Morning. Did you know, in the South of my youth, we discovered a sure-fire way to tell if a poltician was lying--we looked to see if his lips were moving. If they were movin', he was likely lyin'.

Now we laugh at that , but beneath the smile lies a sad commentary on the widespread disconnect between community and those who purport to serve the public.

In the course of this campaign, I have often stated that I see Anaheim and America's deepest challenge to be the renewal and reinvention of a sense of community appropriate to the 21st century, not just the 20th century in drag.

And that renewal and reinvention will come from you, the Kiwanis club and like-minded Angels of Anaheim.

I'd like to share some thoughts of authors Robert Putnam and Paul Loeb.

A few year ago in "Bowling Alone", Putnam noted that more Americans were bowling, but fewer than ever were members of leagues. Starting in the late 60s, Americans in massive numbers began to join less, trust less, give less and vote less. With television, two-career families, and urban sprawl we experienced a free-fall decline in Social Capital.

But it is our joyous responsibility to invent new forms of social capital. And we can lead the way for the nation right here in Anaheim.

Not that we're going to run into the streets, join hands and sing "Kum-Bay-ya", but we can invest in social capital through extensive and time-consuming face-to-face conversations between individuals & among small groups, out of which trust and mutual understanding are built.

We can realize that social capital is a local phenomenon, because it is defined by connections between people who know one another.

But we are challenged by a society that demeans idealism and enshrines cynicism, & makes us feel na´ve for caring.

We get used to alienation & crime & classroom overcrowding, and we think it's normal. The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

I, like many of you, grew up in a society where doors were left unlocked, a world without metal detectors whereas now we have more cameras filming us than Tom Cruise. What happened? Something did.

Our biggest problems are common problems and can only be solved through common efforts--the dream of private sanctuary is an illusion, as is the feelings of helplessness.

So how can we as individuals heed our deepest convictions, our better angels, and act to create a better world?

One way is for us to become storytellers because inspiration surrounds us. We all have stories, we all hear them, let us share them.

Stories like GrannyD's Doris Haddock who walked across America on behalf of campaign finance reform in her 90th year, well, she didn't actually walk the whole way, there was a blizzard and she snow-ski'd the final 100 miles. now at 94 she is making a spirited run for the United States Senate in New Hampshire.

The causes that stir our hearts will inevitably differ. But it is morally incumbent upon us motivated by such passions to reach out and invite others to cross the threshold from passivity to participation, make our voices heard and make our actions count, and reawaken and sustain our faith in the future.

In the words of JFK, the first president of my living memory, "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

Thank you.

TRANSCRIPT OF 4.5 MINUTE SPOT AIRED ON ADELPHIA CABLE:

Hello. My name is Craig Merrihue and I'd like to serve you on the Anaheim City Council. The theme of our campaign is "Let's build the hometown of tomorrow!" envisioning Anaheim as "America's Hometown.", a 21st century city, which cherishes the very best of our traditions, while creating new ones. A "hometown" is more than just a place, it is a place where you feel a deep connection, a place of comfort and community. To make this vision a reality, we have challenges to meet. We must build PEOPLE POWER in the neighborhoods; we must aid our schools and youth with active citizen and city hall support; and we must create the jobs of the future.

The solutions to these challenges begin in the neighborhoods. There we can build people power to restore a sense of community and citizen democracy. These bonds of common ground are a rich tradition of our American heritage. Its that feeling we get strolling down Main street in Disneyland, or what stirs our hearts us when we watch "It's a Wonderful Life" at Christmastime." It is the community spirit of bondedness, and of belonging.

Here in the 21st century we need to reinvent a new sense of community. I say, let Anaheim lead the way.

As a step in this direction, I've devised the ANAHEIM NNAC concept. "NNAC" stands for "Neighborhood Network Action Cooperative". We've divided Anaheim into about 25 such areas , and we will be encouraging the establishment of websites linked together to provide super-local information on jobs, crime, events, human interest stories, city government and elected representatives, and to promote all kinds of neighborhood recreation.

With this strong neighborhood communication structure, we can better tackle the great challenge of providing active city hall and citizen support for our children and youth. To accomplish this, join with us in creating the Anaheim Grassroots Union to Aid Schoolchildren, or "AGUAS" We envision it something like a city wide PTA, posing a "people power" alternative to ensure that our children are the spending priority. Our goal is to explore the possibility of direct city aid to education as practiced in some other cities, reduce classroom size, and expand quality. Anaheim now has the dubious distinction of some of California's most overcrowded classrooms and lowest test scores. How can this be in a city that attracts millions of visitors and their dollars? As the spouse of a public school teacher and frequent classroom volunteer, I can tell you this is a matter of priorities. If children are your priority, as they are mine, (my wife and are the parents of 6) ,join with me, and we will have the finest public schools in the country.

In addition to smaller, high quality classrooms we must expand NEIGHBORHOOD SAFETY to maximize our children's future opportunity.

I have long championed a neighborhoods right to safety. In the early 90s, I organized the Miraloma Park Neighborhood Association to help residents and property owners turn around a neighborhhood deeply troubled by crime, drugs, and gangs.

I made sure owners and tenants had access to information on the problems and the people engendering them. I obtained and personally installed first-rate security lighting on neighborhood buildings I organized neighborhood wide graffiti paint-outs and citizen night patrols, inviting and receiving attendance from numerous political representatives, police, and civic groups. This got us some much needed attention.

The upshot was that people were empowered and took their neighborhood back.

As a world-class Anaheim for all, the hometown of tomorrow must now create the jobs of the future. We can build on our already thriving tourism, by developing cultural centers which reflect or local heritage and value. That's why I favor exploring the possibility of a Mexican-American Cultural Center and an a Center for American Democracy and Freedom.

Anaheim can capitalize on its public utility and develop numerous conservation, solar and renewable resource technologies which will provide the jobs of the future if the will is there. Again, let Anaheim lead the way for America.

For more information on the Craig Merrihue campaign for city council, please see my website http://www.votemerrihue.org , or http://www.smartvoter.org/vote/merrihue

Thank you, and I deeply appreciate your consideration for Craig Merrihue for Anaheim City Council, #2 on your ballot. God bless.

OPENING AND CLOSING REMARKS TO REVITALIZE ANAHEIM'S DOWNTOWN, CANDIDATE FORUM, 10/15/04:

have long been puzzled and dismayed by Anaheim's huge revenue streams and its paltry reflection in city aesthetics and services.

Evidently spending priorities are askew, and the revenue share to benefit workaday Anaheimers is not enough. With this much money coming in, how can we not have the finest public schools in the nation along with the most "people-friendly" neighborhoods?

To ameliorate this unacceptable condition of things doubltless requires both the building of bridges and the breaking of eggs. As your city councilman, I'm an willing to do both.

My commitment is to the workaday folks of Anaheim, not to big money or big government interest. I reject"trickle-down" policy-making which often caters to a the most fortunate segments who do not live in the community. I believe citizen empowerment that "trickles-up" will yield far more desirable results for far more of Anaheim's residents.

I am a STRONG proponent of historic Preservation. I lived in my hometown of New Orleans for 30 years, working in the hospitality trade for 10, and I thoroughly comprehend the quality of life and commercial value of a sense of place and history. If need be, I will contact and work with the officials in that city who have so much experience to offer.

I strongly applaud the city's efforts in this direction, which include the Anaheim Colony Historic Preservation Plan and the Anaheim Colony Vision, Principles, and Design Guidelines.. I believe they should be implemented and taken further if necessary. We should do more than simply disincentive the demolition of historic structures; as good citizens we should unequivocally prevent it. We create the future against the backdrop of the past, our heritage provides strength through the encouragement of continuity identity, and endurance.

. Thanks to the Anaheim Neighborhood Association, RAD & the General Plan, I am gaining insight into the Colony's main concerns: Refocusing redevelopment on neighborhood interests, promoting owner occupied housing as well as historical structure and neighborhood integrity, rezoning, property values, and an attractive environment for independent business. I stand ready to learn and be of assistance.

As I've stated, I'm a strong supporter of localism. Part of this involves nurturing "own-your-own-business" opportunities to revive "Main Street", rather than more and more indistinct looking chains. Increasing distance between store and household and the increase of absentee ownership of retail stores pose a threat to our sense of community, and should be minimized.

It's been said that retail is where business meets the household, and is the sector most closely tied to our sense of community, what Ray Oldenburg calls the "Great, Good, Place", where neighbors meet and civic culture is built. Let's build that Great, Good , Place here in Anaheim.

. I don't have all the answers. But the people, acting on their better angels and reaching consensus, do have the answers. As your city councilman, I hope to bring this consensus from vision to reality.

The theme of my campaign is Let's build the Hometown of tomorrow. By this I mean not just a place to live, but to which we feel the community spirit of bondedness and belonging.

You know, America has a grand tradition of envisioning. It reminds us that the future is not fixed, and that we are what we are not so much because of what we've been, as much as I adore history, but because of what we are becoming, what we are pulling ourselves toward.

And I had to remind myself of this last month when I read the report from New York University. It pointed out that Anaheim was #1 of the nations 86 largest cities in the growth of urban hardship related to various quality of life indexes. We have fallen short, but our past is not our future.

The old centers of power are past their prime, and we need new ones to emerge from People Power in the Neighborhoods.

Let's build that world class library downtown they say we don't have the money for! Heck, let's open the libraries back up on Sunday, see if we collapse economically.

Join with me in a convenant with our children and cut the size of our classrooms in half. No city has done it, they say it's not possible, but I don't believe "them" anymore. I believe us.

Join with me in reinventing community, setting up the framework of 25+ Neighborhood Network Action Cooperatives in Anaheim, linked together with websites & phone trees providing super local information on crime, job, projects, & events.

Some years ago I lived in one of Anaheim's most socially challenged neighborhoods: Gangs, drugs, graffiti and gunfire all rampant. Most said it was hopeless, but some didn't. And people were empowered and we turned it around.

I'm seeking to serve on the city council because I believe a better world is possible, and we can lead the way here in Anaheim, where my wife & I've raised the 6 children and 3 grandchildren I'm far too young and handsome to have.

So let's revitalize downtown, let's create strong, safe neighborhoods and small, high quality classrooms. Let's nurture localism and let's build the hometown of tomorrow! Thank I'm Craig Merrihue, #2 on your ballot, and together, we can do it!

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