GUEST COMMENTARY - One of the basic tenets of our democracy in this country is that we are able to vote for proposed regulations though Ballot Initiatives and for folks to represent us and hold office.
Homeowners Associations, Property Owners Associations, Non-Profits, For-Profits, Parent-Teacher Associations—you name it, people are encouraged to run for leadership positions, issues of concerns, and are encouraged to vote.
Governmental elections are probably the most visible and popular. They include Federal, State, County, and Municipal levels (including judges and school boards). A subset of Municipal elections is the City of Los Angeles’ Neighborhood Council System (NC) which is administered through the City of Los Angeles’ City Clerk-Elections division and through the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE).
Query: Do you believe that people running for office should be required to use their real name (or a recognizable name—e.g., my legal name is “Cynthia M. Bloom” but I am known as “Cindy Bloom”) on the ballot? If you answered, “Yes,” then the Los Angeles City Neighborhood Council system isn’t for you. In fact, you can run by ANY name you choose and the City will happily put it on the ballot and the election website. If I run in the next NC election, I’m contemplating running under “Goddess” but I’m keeping my options open.
When I made an inquiry to the City Clerk Election Division about this absurd who-in-their-right-mind-would-think-it-would-actually-exist issue, Election Administrator for the NC Elections Section Renee McDade’s response was: “Our office requires all stakeholders who are interested in running for a NC board seat to complete a candidate application. They must provide their legal name on the application and submit documentation to prove their identity. However, candidates are not required to use their legal name as their ballot name, which is how they appear on the ballot and on the website.” [Emphasis added.]
So much for transparency in government, huh?
Stakeholders and the electorate DESERVE to rely on the basic assumption that they are presented with a candidate’s real name so that they have confidence in who they are voting for (or not voting for). A candidate running for an elected position under a false name is quite frankly, fraud. Just because the City requires their legal name for proof of identity only on their candidate application (which the public cannot access), does not mean it is proper. This is just another wart on the NC system.
The next NC election will take place in less than a year from now. We deserve better and the City needs to cease this misleading policy immediately. If a person chooses to run for office under a fake name, something is amiss. This ain’t social media.
(Cindy Bloom, M.B.A. (retired from the entertainment industry and the Financial Services Department/Budget, City of Burbank) is Immediate Past President of Shadow Hills Property Owners Association, on the Board of the Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council, and a founder and member of Save Angeles Forest for Everyone. She has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Journal, and the Daily News. The content of this Op-Ed are submitted by her as an individual and not on behalf of her associations or organizations.)