None of the Above

When Curt Pringle announced his desire to run in Anaheim's mayoral election earlier this year, Republican loyalists said he had a lock on the job. The only person who seemed to disagree was Anaheim City Councilwoman and fellow Republican candidate Lucille Kring.

“Anaheim is too big a city to say the election is a lock,” she said at the time (see “A Fun Job,” July 12). “It is still anybody's game at this point. But the one thing Curt Pringle does to this race is to make it a lot more expensive. He has the ability to raise more money than anyone else in Anaheim.”

And he has raised the dough. At last count, Kring had raised far more cash (roughly $74,000) than the only Democrat running in the race, Steve Stavely (a measly $26,000), yet she's still behind fellow council member Republican Frank Feldhaus, whose coffers boast $106,410. But Feldhaus has nothing on Pringle, a former Enron consultant whose war chest spills over with $143,000.

An Oct. 18 mayoral forum held before an audience of about 80 people at the 2,300-capacity Freedman Forum seemed a perfect opportunity for Stavely, Feldhaus and Kring to win over voters despite Pringle's cash lead. Instead, the two-hour discussion showed the trio indistinguishable and Pringle to be . . . well, Pringle.

The candidates answered a series of questions from the audience. A pattern emerged:

Build a new library? Stavely: yes. Feldhaus: yes. Kring: yes. Pringle: no.

Privatize Anaheim's utilities? Stavely: no. Feldhaus: no. Kring: no. Pringle: no . . . but we shouldn't count it out.

Eminent domain? Stavely: yes. Feldhaus: yes. Kring: yes. Pringle: no.

Make preservation of historical homes mandatory? Stavely: yes. Feldhaus: yes. Kring: yes. Pringle: no.

And so it continued, with Pringle's contrarian stance inadvertently positing him as a fresh alternative. It wasn't until this question that things livened up:

“Mr. Pringle, of the 287 people listed in your campaign-finance statements, only 31 have Anaheim addresses. Can you explain this?”

Audience members suddenly awoke. Here was a chance for Feldhaus, Stavely and Kring to drive Carpetbaggin' Curt out of our town. But Pringle immediately went on the defensive, deeming the question unfair and claiming causal innocence.

“I have friends around the state,” he stuttered. “I've worked with many individuals, and I'm willing to solicit contributions from them.”

And, boy, has he. A very truncated list of contributors and endorsers to Pringle's campaign includes all elected OC Republican state officials; developers such as the Irvine Co., Doy Henley and Busch N Associates; and even such celebrity Republicans as Rudy Giuliani, Ken Khachigian and Sheriff Mike Carona.

“Many other people get contributions from developers, too,” continued Pringle, now more pink than usual. “I don't see that as a negative.”

Feldhaus struck the first blow: “I don't look for outside contributors,” he said gruffly, as if outside money was anathema to the former Marine's soul. “My endorsers are from the city of Anaheim.” (A glance at Feldhaus' campaign statements shows that the majority of his contributors are Anaheim merchants.)

“Yeah, Curt, I saw your filing papers, and a lot of the individuals there seem to have addresses in Sacramento and San Diego,” Feldhaus suddenly blurted. “Gee, I wish I could have some of that money for myself.”

“I'll introduce you to them,” Pringle offered.

Stavely mumbled that the fund-raising system was inherently evil.

And then Kring took over.

A member of the Orange County Republican Party central committee, Kring formally announced her intention to run for mayor at an August 2000 press conference. But after her announcement, she alleged, numerous Pringle supporters (whom, with the exception of the campaign manager from her 1998 City Council run, she refused to name) asked her to drop out of the race.

Since then, Kring has sent out a mailer with Pringle's face masked by the Enron logo and featuring a picture of Pringle walking with a suitcase—the carpetbagger exposed.

But instead of revealing this to the audience that night, Kring replied anemically. “I try to get my supporters from Anaheim,” she offered. “The records are available at the City Clerk's office.” And then she followed with her greatest accomplishment: “I synchronized all the signal lights in Anaheim.”

One of these individuals will be the next mayor of Orange County's largest city. May God help us all.

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