By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
Arecord turnout is predicted in the Pacific Palisades Community Council elections, with interest sparked by last week’s online “vitriol and vengeance” exchanges between rival candidate champions and a growing awareness of planning issues that could transform the community over the next decades.
Past PPCC elections have been won by a literal handful of votes; before polls close next week insiders predict that more than 1,000 Palisadians will have voted.
That would eclipse turnout in traditionally more lively Westside areas such as Venice, which is considering its own “Vexit,” or leaving the city of Los Angeles.
The 11 candidates seeking to represent the community will meet face to face for the first time at tonight’s PPCC meeting at the Palisades Branch Library in the Village.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be the first big test for Maryam Zar, the newly elected PPCC chair, who expressed her own hopes for the election in an editorial on page 6 where she appeals for more and different people to become involved in the council.
Zar and her predecessor, Chris Spitz, will be managing the open forum between the candidates with exceptional delicacy.
Instead of just allowing a free-for-all question and answer session as in previous years, the audience will be invited to fill in question cards when they enter and then PPCC executives will read them out “in a neutral fashion” to prevent interjections or complaints.
They are seeking to calm long-seething hostilities that emerged last week on Nextdoor, a hyperlocal social network, when old grudges between pro- and anti-Caruso development factions flared into personal abuse and borderline slanders.
At the heart of the furor was Sue Kohl, incumbent representative for Area 5, and her challenger, Sandra Eddy. Kohl was accused of being too friendly with Caruso whilst Eddy attracted support from Alphabet Streets residents branded by critics as “fringe elements.”
The Nextdoor debate has calmed down, with some expressing shock at how fast hostilities accelerated online, others judging it a distraction from the real issues.
But observers fear there are still “sore spots” amongst candidates and supporters that could flare up during the debate with an unfortunate word.
Election fever, or a Palisadian version of it, has grown so fast that last week a group in Marquez Knolls considered purchasing 90 copies of a recent Palisadian-Post issue that contained ballots—enough votes to change the race between rivals Peter Zomber and Danielle Samulon.
To meet this demand PPCC representatives will hold a “mini election” with provisional paper ballots available at the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market this Sunday morning, Aug. 27. Bring ID.
Palisadians are encouraged to read the candidates’ statements and vote online at pacpalicc.org before polls close at midnight on Thursday, Sept. 1.