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Dana Point residents were the big losers in the 2018 election. They lost the opportunity to vote in a fair, transparent election and elect outstanding councilmen to represent their interests. Three highly qualified candidates—Charles Payne, Mark McGinn and Joe Jaeger—and Debra Lewis, a sitting council member, were targeted in a deceptive and defamatory campaign by the Dana Point Taxpayers Association (DPTA). The court has recently upheld Sanford Edward’s case against the DPTA alleging libelous and malicious campaign ads. But the DPTA’s untold victims were the residents of Dana Point.

Candidates Payne, McGinn and Jaeger had exceptional qualifications, supported pro-resident issues and were not funded by major PAC donations or expenditures. Debra Lewis has been a dedicated councilmember who has worked responsibly on behalf of all Dana Point residents since receiving overwhelming citywide support in her 2016 election. And they were maligned by the DPTA in order to help elect Joe Muller, Richard Viczorek and Jamey Federico.

Why did the DPTA undertake such a vicious campaign? The DPTA could have concluded that Muller, Viczorek and Federico would not win on their own unless drastic action was undertaken on their behalf. The DPTA people probably wanted to ensure business as usual that favored their interests. Muller and Viczorek have been reliable supporters of pro-developer interests. They also have supported the TCA as sitting board members. And Federico was backed extensively by a property manager and STR advocates providing huge monetary donations through a PAC.

Dana Point residents cannot be confident that Councilmen Muller, Viczorek and Federico will work for them. They benefited from the DPTA’s nefarious campaign, along with $70,000 in special-interest donations, and now represent the council’s voting majority, although receiving relatively few votes because of the by-district election. They seemed to turn a blind eye and welcome the unethical tactics that helped them be elected. Dana Point residents deserve better.  We should have leaders with integrity and a city council that we know will represent our interests.

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