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By Tim Hunt

Friends of Livermore has a new foe

Uploaded: Nov 17, 2016

The Friends of Livermore political action group celebrated big time after last week’s election when the candidates it backed financially and publicly won easily.
Bob Coomber topped the field by almost 2,000 votes, while his running mate Bob Carling ran a strong second in the six-person field. The other four candidates, including incumbents Stu Gary and Laureen Turner, split the remaining votes.
A key factor likely was former councilman John Stein, who once would have closely aligned with the leaders of the Friends. Politically, he moved away from them years ago. Stein ran third, while Turner was fourth and Gary trailed by almost 700 votes.
Cut the field down to simply the Friends’ candidates against the incumbents and the result would have been much closer and perhaps Turner could have won the second position.
The results leave Mayor John Marchand isolated on the council. He won re-election unopposed because the Friends could not convince anyone to run against him. It will be interesting to see if the new Bobs are willing to exercise independent views from those advocated by the big donors to the Friends. Marchand previously had been backed by the Friends, as was Gary, but they were dropped because of their positions on the former Lucky’s site downtown.
The Friends also got into a political duel with Livermore Forward, a political action group formed to back the incumbents as well as other interests in the downtown area. A Friends supporter filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission arguing that Livermore Forward had not filed timely spending reports.
Livermore Forward fought back by hiring its own consultant to refute the charges and then review how the Friends had conducted business. The consultant, Kristin Armstrong, wrote in a letter to the editor in the Independent, “Results of this review indicated that many of Friends of Livermore’s filings were incorrect, incomplete, and frankly, bordering on an intent to deceive."
Livermore Forward then filed a complaint with the state commission, alleging that the Friends had failed to file timely reports in at least 18 instances as well as other violations.
So, it will be up to the commission to sort it out, but that will not change the election results. Candidates or committees may be fined, but the election will stand.


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