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Both are well-versed in the needs of their municipal microcosms, and both knock Freeman for his macro background, pointing out that he moved to the district two years ago and calling him a carpetbagger with no connection to the communities he wants to represent.
But Freeman doesn’t try to hide his outsider status. From his urban-cowboy garb to his unmistakable drawl, he oozes otherness. He chose to run in the 41st, he says, because the district’s liberal sensibilities were most in line with his own. Knowing the minutiae of local government is not, as far as he’s concerned, essential to doing a good job. A six-chapter, 58-page book he sent to 70,000 voters outlines the highlights of his far-flung career: Among other things, he’s managed utilities in Tennessee, Texas, New York and Sacramento, and closed nine nuclear power plants along the way, including the one in Rancho Seco.
If anything, the rivalry in the 42nd is even more fierce, where, by his own admission, Stone is a longshot candidate. For both Paul Koretz, a West Hollywood councilman, and Amanda Susskind, a public-law attorney, preparation for this race has been a yearslong endeavor. Koretz says his first memory of his father is walking picket lines with him as a toddler. He helped found the workers’ union in West Hollywood, and led the city’s highly publicized effort to ban Saturday-night specials.
Susskind’s campaign slogan, “Best qualified — best trained,” sums her up nicely: While Koretz was out walking picket lines she was writing city codes; serving on commissions on housing, women and parks; and generally getting all of her ducks in a row. She’s endorsed by Senator Polanco, the California National Organization for Women and the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
But Stone knows more about medicine than anyone outside of his profession could hope to acquire in the six short years of state Assembly service that term limits allow. He’d contribute a physician’s perspective on a range of issues, from homelessness and the mentally ill to the links between smog and growing health problems like asthma. And he’s demonstrated a fearlessness that could serve him well. When an elderly patient was turned away from the overcrowded Cedars emergency room and died on the way to another hospital, Stone held a press conference bemoaning the state of emergency-room care. After leading the effort to get RU-486 into the U.S. for testing, he’s now pressuring the FDA, which has stalled approval, to move forward. “I will publicly embarrass them, if it takes that,” he says. “Because this is ridiculous.” For what it’s worth, he’s the only candidate in the race — probably the only candidate in all of California — to have the endorsement of John Kenneth Galbraith.
The rain at the Santa Monica Farmers Market is coming down hard now, and Freeman decides to call it a day. Ultimately, he knows the race in the 41st will be won by mail — most of the $300,000 he’s raised will be spent on printing and postage. “That’s how people decide these days,” he says, “based on mail and TV.”
In the 42nd, Dan Stone is counting on things being different — truth be told, that’s his only hope. While his opponents have amassed half-a-million-dollar kitties, he’s mustered just $250,000 — a third of it his own money. Stone’s strategy is to personally deliver his message to as many likely voters as possible. To this end, he’s out in his white orthopedic sneakers six hours a day, seven days a week. By a week before the primary, he’s lost 15 pounds and has a chronic backache.
On this weekday morning, he’s getting a lot of no-answers. Over the course of two hours, he talks to about two dozen people, none of whom had heard of him or either of his opponents. But all are at the very least polite — not one slammed the door in his face.
One man seems genuinely surprised. After listening to Stone’s spiel, the man extends a tattooed hand. “I appreciate you coming out in the rain,” he tells Stone. “Very rarely does this happen. I hope you make it. God bless.”