By Sarah Bennett
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By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
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By Alex Distefano
With less than two weeks until election time and more than a dozen candidates vying for two open seats on the Anaheim City Council, it seems like Dustin Apodaca, front man of Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, isn’t exactly a shoo-in. The only one listed as a“musician” on the ballot, the charismatic 28-year-old vocalist/keyboardist for the soon-to-be defunct band declined to give an official candidate statement. When asked about a website for his candidacy, he replied, “Sorry, no website. Grassroots only.”
But Apodaca’s slick campaign poster rivals fellow Anaheim City Council hopeful Bill Dalati’s electoral swag in style points. It asks the city’s voters to “Trust in Dustin.”
The former Katella High School student talks about his motivation in his Google profile biography: “I was born and raised in Anaheim, and I have witnessed this city change and grow over the past 28 years. It is time to elect someone who isn’t a political insider, but an Anaheim native who is in touch with the city’s needs in tough economic times.”
Apodaca is taking his grassroots effort seriously and actually wanted to vie for a seat four years ago, but obligations to Dusty Rhodes and the River Band took precedence. Now that the band are breaking up—save for one last “finale” show—he’s free to ramble on about his bread-and-butter topic: the proposed construction of an 800-mile high-speed rail taking passengers from Anaheim to San Francisco.
“We can’t afford to make these freeways any bigger, and that giant smog cloud that makes its way to the 909 area code every late afternoon isn’t getting any smaller,” he says. “Not only does this train have to be built, but it also has to be ever-expanding. . . . When we reach that goal, it will serve to organize and measure the best of our energy and skills, while creating thousands of jobs in the process.” (Unemployment in Anaheim remains in double-digit proportions.)
Apodaca also sees marijuana legalization as the economic boost the city needs. “The city was completely wrong in banning medical-marijuana dispensaries. This is a clear indication of how out of touch and backwards Anaheim’s leaders are,” Apodaca says of the ordinance approved by previous council members and currently tied up in legal appeals. “From a business and potentially local-economy-stimulating standpoint, it is ridiculous to bar these dispensaries.”
As a mostly working-class and immigrant city, Anaheim has been a political playground for current and outgoing Republican Mayor Curt Pringle, while a mock “Mr. Mickey Mouth” write-in campaign satirizes the city’s “Disnocrats.” The mayor’s “ordinations” for his own expiring position and the two open council seats are in the mix for this November, as well as a slew of “outsider” conservatives. There are a few Liberals, too, but only one musician. Will voters Trust in Dustin? From an Oct. 22 Heard Mentality post.
This column appeared in print as "Will Dustin Apodaca Strike a Chord With Voters?"