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City Council race turns partisan, negative

Two candidates become targets of negative e-mails sent by unknown group calling itself 'Placer County Citizens for Truth'
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The campaign for Roseville City Council — what’s supposed to be a nonpartisan race — became dirty last week, when two e-mails slamming a couple of the candidates made their way to the inboxes of some Roseville residents. A third e-mail went out Tuesday morning. But it’s unclear who exactly sent the e-mails or how many voters were reached. The messages criticize candidates Tim Herman and David Larson. The first message also endorses Susan Rohan and Sam Cannon as the Republican choices for the council. In the second e-mail sent Oct. 6, the author alleges that Larson and Herman voted no on Proposition 8, the “California Marriage Protection Act,” which bans same-sex marriage. The author condemns the candidates, and labels Herman as a “non-Republican for over twenty years and trying to pass himself off as a Conservative … (but he) cannot hide his Liberal record.” Herman, registered as “decline-to-state,” said the e-mail involves private voting, assumptions and issues that “aren’t important to how one would function as a City Council member.” He said, as a candidate for public office, he anticipated being the target for some negative campaigning, but that the e-mails are offensive to his wife and daughter. “It’s not unexpected,” Herman said. “But it’s unfortunate that a nonpartisan race is being put in such a partisan light.” That same e-mail asserts that Herman and Larson’s views “puts them at odds with the values of Roseville residents.” But that’s not the case for resident Ruth Jurey, who responded to the e-mail with one of her own, expressing her frustration with this “type of skewed rhetoric.” Larson said he doesn’t want to dwell on the negativity, instead using the messages as a chance to remind people “who I am and what I’m all about.” “Since moving to Roseville in 2001, I have focused on two considerations,” Larson said. “One is the success of my business and the second is to give back to our community. As a leader, I am open, honest and encouraging. … The opportunity to be a contribution for others is one of my life’s greatest rewards.” Rohan said she was upset when she learned of the e-mails. “It’s really tragic,” Rohan said. “We are a small community and we all know one another. I’m not comfortable with (negative campaigning). Everyone thinks during a campaign, it’s open season. But, actually, as a candidate, it’s very jarring.” Cannon said he saw one of the e-mails, but that he isn’t familiar with the group claiming responsibility. “I’ve tried to take a positive approach,” Cannon said. “These things happen during a campaign and it certainly doesn’t lend itself well to the election.” Candidates for Roseville City Council must sign two forms agreeing to fair and positive campaign practices — the Code of Fair Campaign Practices in the California Elections Code, and the city’s Voluntary Code of Campaign Conduct. All six candidates — Larson, Herman, Rohan, Cannon, Neil Pople and David Brown — signed both documents, said Judy Moore, records coordinator in the Roseville City Clerk’s Office. Pople said he hasn’t seen the e-mails, but that he’s opposed to personal attacks on candidates. “This is a nonpartisan race, yet somehow certain people always inject political agendas to score cheap points,” Pople said. “If these folks want to make attacks on Larson and Herman for stepping up to serve our community, they should at least be courageous enough to put their own names out there for public scrutiny. I don’t condone cowardly attacks on people who are simply trying to make our community a better place.” Brown also hasn’t received the e-mails, but he thinks candidates should be upfront about their political philosophies because “people deserve to get the truth about how a candidate will govern.” The bottom of the two e-mails say the messages were “brought to you by Placer County Citizens for Truth,” but the “from” line says, “Placer County Republicans for Truth,” leaving recipients of the messages struggling to determine just who exactly this group — or person — is. Internet searches for both groups came up empty. The domain name for the originating e-mail, “placercountrygop.net” was purchased earlier this year. The purchaser then bought what is called a “domain proxy service,” which blocks the public from seeing the owner of the domain. E-mail attempts to contact the possible domain owner were left unreturned. Placer County Republican Party Chariman Tom Hudson said he hasn’t heard of the groups behind the e-mails. Regardless of the originator, Herman now just wants to let the negative campaigning cool down. “I expected some attacks from different people and I don’t think a lot of them,” Herman said. “There’s no reason to give a small voice a big voice.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- If you have any information about Placer County Citizens for Truth or Placer County Republicans for Truth, e-mail reporter Sena Christian at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.