Updated: Mar 7, 2022
Today we reveal our predictions for the outcome of upcoming elections, this time at the local level in the City of Whittier. The accuracy of these predictions varies depending on whether we are talking about local, state, and federal elections.
There were issues with our federal predictions which was due to the COVID pandemic turning the whole political situation upside down and the fact that there was a total fruit cake in the White House. In fact, the situation in November 2020 had us changing our calls constantly as it went back and forth due to highly unusual conditions. We will need another election that is done under normal conditions to get a clearer view of the record there. But as it stands, we are forced to admit we are 0-2. In 2016 we predicted that Hillary Clinton would win. She did not.
We have had better success at the state and local levels. On the state level we predicted that Newsome would defeat the recall. California Governor Gavin Newsom did indeed defeat the recall despite the highly unusual conditions that still existed at that time. However, we don’t usually deal in state election predictions. We attempted to predict election outcomes for the state level in 2020 and the conditions at the time flipped that on its head so our record at the state level is mixed, 50-50.
On the local level our score is 8 out of 8 or 100%. It helps to have a better understanding of how your local politics works. This year we have been asked what stats we are using for our prediction and what data it is based on. Unlike the state and federal predictions, data is only part of the ingredients that go into our local predictions. Much of it is based on intuition and knowing the dynamics of the political winds. If you want to know what those are, here they are.
Political winds: The winds are clearly blowing against Democrats all across the nation including at the local level of governance. Whittier is no exception to this phenomenon. Right now, everything that is going wrong from inflation to increasing crime rates are being blamed on Democrats. Whittier is a non partisan election city. That means candidates’ party affiliation does not appear on the ballot next to their names. The problem is that at the local level you do not actually need a party next to your name for people to think they know which party you are with. Most of Whittier’s voters are Decline to States. Both Democrats and Republicans are minority in the City of Whittier as well as in the Whittier Area at large. Republicans should not celebrate too much because while the anger of the DTS (Decline to State voters) is currently directed at Democrats, it can and will in the future be directed at Republicans.
The irony in this case is that crime is going up in Whittier despite the city having a Republican majority council. We do not know Mr. Martinez party affiliation but we have noticed he is getting a lot of support from Republicans who live in the City of Whittier. With both parties being a minority in our city, it comes down to which side is more excited. We found that despite the fact that Republicans are in power at a time of increased crime and economic turmoil, their side has all the energy this year. Further we understand and we see that the city’s DTS voters know that the city council does not have any control over the policies that led to hike in crime which most local voters blame on Newsom and Gascon, both Democrats. In fact, the Whittier City Council has done what they could do to deal with the crime problem within the extreme limits on their power that were imposed on them over the last 2 years by Sacramento and LA County. Those policies were biased against crime victims and in favor of violent criminals.
Our first poll shows Octavio Martinez ahead but polls can be wrong so one should be careful in using any polls as the sole basis for predictions. Poll accuracy depends 100% on the participation of all parties’ supporters. In the past we found that only supporters one or two candidates participated while others were targeted by a deliberate campaign by people with malevolent intentions designed to discourage them from participating. If a candidate does not believe the polls is truly reflective, the remedy is for them to encourage their own supporters to take part because poll participation by supporters shows how strong support for a given candidate is. If only one or two people in a poll say they are voting in an election while another candidate’s supporters overwhelming participate, that can make it appear that second candidate is winning the election because his/her supporters appear to be more highly motivated to support their candidate. This is how polls work in politics.
The next thing is we looked at campaign financing. We will be publishing a report on that shortly. Suffice to say we found that Mr. Martinez has been raising campaign funds for the last two years for the district 2 seat. We determined that as a consequence of this, Martinez is way ahead of the game. Of all the candidates in District 2, he is the only one to raise close to $20,000 for his campaign. We found that almost all contributions this year to all candidates, came from local residents rather than outside organizations. The closest rival, in campaign finance terms, has so far raised $5,000 in the district 2 races. While Sullens has been a resident of Whittier for almost half a century and a strong community leader in that time, her campaign has been lagging in these areas. Her supporters have not done enough to promote or otherwise boost her campaign. She only began to fundraise after she qualified for the ballot. By personal experience I can tell you that if you want to win office you have to start at least two years before the election you are running for. This is just as true for local office as it is for state and federal offices. Those who decide last minute tend to have an uphill climb against those who have been lobbying for the position for the previous two-year period. A major part of that two-year campaign is ingratiating yourself with local organizations that are most likely to play a big role in elections. For example, while District 1 candidate Maggie Moe had a weak campaign in 2024 despite her involvement in a couple of Community Organizations, the fact that she has spent the last two years increasing her involvement in the community and helping with local efforts against COVID and other issues, causes us to predict she will have a much stronger campaign in 2020 and as such will be the person most likely to unseat the other Martinez on the council, Jessica. The anecdote is if at first you don’t succeed, try again and try harder. And for everyone's information, if Whittier’s aesthetics attracted you to this city and if you enjoy learning more about Whittier history, Sullens has played a significant role in that, including with the preservation of local historic sites such as the preservation of several buildings of historic value at what is now The Groves.
Once a person is elected to office, it is very difficult to remove them. You need very extreme and unusual circumstances to remove an incumbent. The additional issue in Whittier is that the incumbent remains extremely popular in the community. As is the case for most incumbents, Vinatieri has usually started his fund-raising years in advance. This year however, he has taken another approach. He did not make a decision to run until late in 2020 and he did not start raising funds until the 2nd quarter of last year. That is most unusual for an incumbent. It is also a sign he was preoccupied with taking care of Whittier, with the pandemic and the economic situation going on. Rolando Cano and Leon Savage have run for the office before. Rolando has been about the community for the last two years and has pointed out several issues that need addressing, including the high crime rate. His campaign should be stronger than what we are seeing. While we favor keeping money out of politics, the fact is that you cannot win without it. This is true even for those with a long history of involvement in the Whittier community. Having said that, as with the last election, Rolando remains Joe’s strongest opponent and as such is the go-to candidate for those who do not want Joe to have another term. For those who believe that Joe has already served too long on the council, Rolando is their best hope for getting a new mayor. Rolando was a strong advocate to reopening council meetings for in person public comments which only now the city is moving toward but that is more a factor of the state and county lifting their Covid mandates. Both Joe Vinatieri and Rolando Cano have been strong advocates of reigning in criminals and protecting locals from violent criminals and gangs. Rolando has been a strong advocate for holding the city and the police department accountable for their actions and policies.
Both Rolando Cano and Mary E. Sullens are more than qualified for the seats they are running for. Under better circumstances there is no reason they could not win the election for those seats. But their opponents are equally and just as strongly qualified. When we found that a local community leader with a long record in Whittier was running, we had hoped that Whittier could make history by having its first female majority. But there is a lot more to elections than a person’s gender or ethnicity. While we may promote the goal of having a female majority council it is important to remember that there are other factors at play that must all fall into place in order for that happen. It will happen in its own time.
The other candidate in the district 2 race is Michael Kazarian, a city employee. At last check, he had not raised any funds for his campaigns and we have not seen much poll participation from his supporters.
Due to the strong credentials of all the candidates this year and current circumstances, Whittier 360 will not be issuing any endorsements this year. Our endorsements are separate from our predictions and the two don’t always align as we saw in 2020 when we predicted one group of candidates would win but endorsed other candidates. But if we did, it would be Mary Sullens for District 2 and Rolando Cano for mayor due simply to the fact that Joe Vinatieri has been in that seat for a very long time and it is near time that someone new take the reins. The torch needs to be passed sooner or later. It does not matter that the torch be passed to another Republican or to a Democrat. Nor does it matter whether it be passed to a different gender, race, or ethnicity as long as it passed to someone new. The city can only continue to grow when incumbents are willing to pass the torch to their fellow Whittierites. We hope that current incumbents in the Whittier Area at the state and local levels and those who support them take this to heart. Your communities cannot grow except the torch be passed at least once every 10 to 15 years. While those who run to serve this city and who are fortunate to sit on the council and its boards have a lot of love for the community, there comes a time that the torch must be passed to a fellow Whittier citizen. Let us not get to attached to the offices to which we are elected. Let us not make the mistake of assuming that the city cannot be stable or be able to grow without us.
Based on both intuition and the information available, Whittier 360 News Network officially predicts that Joe Vinatieri will win reelection to the office of Mayor of Whittier. We further predict that Octavio Martinez will win the election for 2nd District seat on the Whittier City Council. Until then, remember to be courteous to each other.