Zach Courser, Larry Schroeder for the March city council election

The Claremont COURIER newspaper endorses Zachary Courser for the Tuesday, March 7 election.

It was easy for the COURIER staff to reach consensus on endorsing Mr. Courser. He is conscientious, decisive and, if elected, will undoubtedly bring new life to the city council. With cancelled elections and a string of unqualified candidates in recent years, Mr. Courser arrived at the perfect time.

Mr. Courser, 40, is a government professor and research director of the Dreier Roundtable at Claremont McKenna College. He came to Claremont from Washington State in 1995 to attend CMC and returned to teach from 2006 to 2008. After earning his PhD in government from the University of Virginia, Mr. Courser came back to Claremont in 2014 after accepting his current teaching position with CMC.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time getting to know Mr. Courser and believe his passion for public policy coupled with his connection to Claremont and the Colleges will greatly benefit the city. His grasp of the Constitution, both in theory and practice, is impressive. This, alongside his steadfast support of human rights, should appeal to all residents regardless of party.

Mr. Courser doesn’t mince words. He has shared his frustration over the current council’s predisposition to continue business as usual. We agree. At a recent forum, Mr. Courser offered a fiery rebuke of the handling of the eminent domain water trial. He admonished the city’s unwillingness to consider potential errors made by the city attorneys, and advocated the need to look at every possible reason for the loss.

Mr. Courser is correct when he says we can’t simply blame the loss on “getting a bad judge.”  But whether his assessment is right or wrong, it’s important that the city consider all possibilities. We need city leaders who will address these complex issues head-on.

Some tough decisions have been made by the council and we’re generally happy with the path the city is on, but we believe it’s time for new ideas and fresh oversight.

While he appreciates all of the benefits offered in our city, Mr. Courser doesn’t pretend that Claremont life is perfect and instead promises to take a more practical approach to city governance. His more objective view will be an asset and will only boost the abundant list of services and programs offered in Claremont.  

We need Mr. Courser’s fortitude as we move forward with the water appeal and grapple with other challenges facing the city. We urge Claremont voters to elect Zachary Courser to the city council on March 7.

 

*****

 

This brings us to our second endorsement, one the COURIER had grapple with a bit longer. We looked closely at the remaining candidates, considering experience, intellect, temperament and political acumen. Each time, we came back to deciding between the two incumbents, who each bring different strengths to the council.

Corey Calaycay cares deeply about the community and has worked hard to keep the lines of communication open by allowing residents access to city hall. Larry Schroeder has been a thoughtful council member who has stepped up on some key issues. Both have served Claremont well and both previously received COURIER endorsements.

There are also some areas of concern with both candidates, one of which is our impression that the incumbents are running for council in tandem. Their kick-off parties were scheduled the same day within a timeframe that allowed residents to get from one to the other without much crossover. Both candidates installed side-by-side campaign signs at Mr. Calaycay’s home, adding to our worry that the current council has simply gotten too cozy because of their years together at the dais.

In the end, our choice comes down to a matter of philosophy.

Taking into account changing populations as a result of aging, relocation and a fluctuating economy, serving on a council for 12 or 16 years is simply too long. There should be a natural progression in the makeup of any city council to adapt to its evolving community.

When you have been in a position for more than a decade, it’s easy to lose sight of your role. That may be a factor in Mr. Calaycay’s recent decision to abstain from voting on a controversial matter on the grounds that he didn’t want to speak for all Claremont residents. As we know, however, while political decisions rarely please everyone, election to council is a mandate to represent your community.

We’re forced to make a tough decision. Mr. Calaycay is undoubtedly enthusiastic and competent but because he has already served three terms in office, our second endorsement goes to Mr. Schroeder.

Should he win, we hope Mr. Schroeder will take a busy contest, and quite likely a close race, as a cue to approach his role with the energy and objectivity of a newcomer.

Vote for Zachary Courser and Larry Schroeder in the Tuesday, March 7 election.

—COURIER editorial staff

editor@claremont-courier.com

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