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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Orange County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for Craig L. Merrihue

Candidate for
Member, City Council; City of Anaheim

This information is provided by the candidate

My name is Craig Merrihue and I am seeking to serve on the city council because I believe a better world is possible, and we can start building it in Anaheim.

We can create a world based upon love and justice. It is our choice and our duty to rise up above greed, fear, and materialism and bring life to the visions of our better angels.

Our obstacles are obvious in our daily lives. Our children attend overcrowded schools with inferior amenities. Our city spends millions on resorts and sports arenas, but tells our children the money just isn't there for them.

The theme of our campaing is "Let's build the hometown of tomorrow!" I envision Anaheim as "America's Hometown.", a 21st century city, which cherishes the very best of our heritage and traditions, while creating new ones.

A "hometown" is more than just a place, it is a place to which you feel a deep connection, where you find 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 beautify our social space in Anaheim, including saving our hills from overdevelopment. We must also create the jobs of tomorrow.

To make this vision a reality we have challenges to meet together. To that end,we are enfolding citizen action "campaigns" within our campaign for office:

I believe 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, our second "campaign" within our campaign is asking Anaheimers to 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.

I am well aware that education is primarily the affair of the state and districts. But leaving the responsibility entirely in those quarters has helped bring us to the current unacceptable conditions.

It's time to think outside of the box and try something different.

The safety and welfare of our children and community also demands that Anaheim finally act decisively on AFFORDABLE HOUSING. The City Council and Government has played a decisive role in creating 64,000 modestly paying service jobs in the 1990-2000 period, without providing one unit of affordable housing within the same decade. Overcrowding contributes to enormous stresses on working families. The lack of affordable housing is even believed to contribute to crime rates which affect us all.

I support the work of the Kennedy Commission which has painstakingly studied the issue of Affordable Housing in Anaheim.

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

I have long proven myself a champion of a neighborhood's right to safety.In the early 90s, I organized the Miraloma Park Neighborhood Association to help residents and property owners turn around a deeply troubled neighborhood.

Graffiti vandalism went up daily on every available surface, defacing our public spaces. Drug distribution & even manufacture was rampant. Pitch dark apartment buildings and alleys shrouded gunfire, break-ins, and assorted criminal activity.

As I went from door to door collecting information and mobilizing neighbors, I discovered that much of this mayhem was perpetrated by a dizzying array of gangs: a 70 year old streetgang with close ties to prison-based gangs, white supremacist thugs, and motorcycle gangs, all jostling for a piece of the growing drug trade.

I knew our only hope against this was organization and courage. 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 90% of neighborhood buildings through a city of Anaheim program none of the owners were previously aware of.. I organized neighborhood wide graffiti paint-outs and citizen night patrols, inviting and receiving attendance form numerous political representatives, police, and civic groups. This got us some much needed attention.

I spent at least 2 hours every daybreak wiping out the previous night's "tags". We formed neighborhood watch groups to root out drug and criminal activity. I developed City Hall relationships to get slumlords to shape up or ship out.

We were threatened with real harm more times than I can remember, but we perservered, looked out for one another, and kept pressing on.

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

In the nearly 20 years I've lived in Anaheim, I've watched big money and big government work hand in glove to build the city THEY wanted to expand their fortunes or authority. That's how we ended up footing the bill for resort development and not receiving enough back to relieve school overcrowding, much less have the finest public schools in the country which I feel we are entilted to.

That's how we created 64,000 low paying service jobs and not a single unit of affordable housing. That's why our libraries came to be closed on Sundays, that's how are hillsides became overdeveloped and much of the city so very less attractive to the eye than, say Fullerton, which is not host to even a small fraction of the revenue streams Anaheim is.

We can change that if we have the collective will and representation disinclined to cozy up to big money and big government.

So we'd like supporters to join in a citizen action effort to address the beauty of our social spaces or the lack thereof. To build the hometown of tomorrow, we must preserve and enhance the beauty of our these spaces while stopping ugly sprawl in its tracks. Unlike many candidates for city council, I do not take developer money am therefore not compromised in my dedication to an ever more beautiful Anaheim.

Anaheim's development has not had the warm and human face that would enhance the quality of life for all, but has often been dictated by remote big money interests. We need development to reflect our hometown values, not just crass, commercial ones. I'd like to see local heritages and arts reflected by our city scape a lot more, and big companies with something to sell playing a more diminished role.

That's why I favor the exploration of establishing two culutural centers to serve the people of Anaheim as well as attract visitors: a world-class Mexican-American Cultural Center, and a Patriot's Center for Freedom and Democracy.

According to experts, sprawl and overdevelopment are taking a toll on America's hearts, lungs, air, drinking water, sense of community, psychological well-being and safety.

I favor "smart-growth" strategies, with transportation options and in which homes, workplaces, stores, and other land uses are nearer to one another. Anaheim's lovely hills, in particular, must be protected from overdevelopment. These are spaces for all of us to treasure, and enough is enough.

Save Our Hills.

As a world-class Anaheim for all, the hometown of tomorrow must now create the jobs of the future. Building on our already thriving tourism, I believe the Mexican-American Cultural Center and the Patriot's Center for Democracy and Freedom could be a valuable addition to this mix.

In this era, where the world has reached Peak Oil production, Anaheim can capitalize on it public utility owned by we, the people, and commit to assisting the development of numerous conservation, solar and renewable resource technologies which are labor intensive and will provide many jobs in Anaheim if the will is there. Again, let Anaheim lead the way for America.

Mass incarceration in our society is now verging on social genocide. Whereas the rate of our population in jails and prisons held steady at about 100 per 100,000 for many in decades, since 1965, this has skyrocketed to 713 per 100,000, well over half of whom are black and latino, a much higher percentage than prior to the civil rights era.

This is the result of racial profiling and targeting. When 70% of drug users are white, and 70% of those incarcerated for drug use are black and brown, we have an indefensible situation. I will work to eliminate this travesty in Anaheim.

In addition to these, my candidacy favors:

Banning Unfair ATM Double Fees Keeping Our Utility Public and Rates Low Nurture Own-Your-Own Business Opportunities Supporting the Living Wage and Worker Justice Fair Taxes and Fees, Not Higher Ones on YOU Privacy Rights and Civil Liberties Public Safety Through Justice and Prosperity Development Moratoria- in hills, on "big box" superstores A larger City Council divided into representative districts Libraries open 7 days, with long operating hours. Encouragement and incentive of city employees to live in Anaheim Locally Preferable Purchasing by the City An absence of racial profiling and discrimination Verified voting systems with "airtight" paper trails and counting Maximum Aid for Seniors and finally, and as of late, very importantly, Private, Not Public financing of professional sports.

I don't trust "top down" leadership, particularly when rooted in the special interests of big money. I think the time has come, and Anaheim can lead the way, for American democracy to take the next step, beyond the special interests and the dedicated few of our praiseworthy and laudable civic community. I want to facilitate the involvement of people who have never thought of participating before, possibly because they didn't realize that their voice did indeed make a difference. I think the workaday people in our neighborhoods are perfectly capable of determining their values, and thus, be the builder's of Anaheim's future.

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

For more information on the Craig Merrihue campaign for city council, please see my website

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

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: November 1, 2004 12:40
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