Former congressman Jerry M. Patterson formally filed his papers to become a candidate for supervisor Thursday, declaring he didn't view his attempted move from Washington to Orange County as a step down.
Patterson, 51, the only Democrat among the three major candidates for the seat being vacated by Supervisor Ralph B. Clark, lived in Santa Ana while in Congress but has moved to Anaheim to run for the 4th District seat.
A former mayor of Santa Ana, Patterson lost a bitter, expensive battle in 1984 against Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), ending his 10-year stint in Congress.
"Orange County supervisor is a prestigious position," Patterson said at a press conference. "It's not a comedown. It's a splendid opportunity for me to serve the people, which is what I get satisfaction out of."
'I'll Be One of Five'
In Washington, he was one of 435 representatives, he said. If he wins in Orange County, "I'll be one of five" supervisors.
Patterson attacked opponent Don Roth, the mayor of Anaheim, for supporting placement of billboards on freeways through that city and for not working harder to settle the lawsuit involving Anaheim and the California Angeles baseball team.
He distinguished himself from Roth and his other major opponent in the race, Orange Mayor James H. Beam, by calling himself the candidate "most independent from the real estate development industry" and most unlikely to "have personal conflicts of interest" on a board that deals constantly with developers.
Patterson, an attorney, said he is now representing Orange County business firms on matters that they have in Washington but declined to identify those clients. He said Beam and Roth "primarily earned their living in real estate development or sales transactions."
Behind in Fund Raising
Although Patterson is ranked the front-runner in his and Beam's polls, and second in Roth's, he is far behind in fund raising.
He said he has $100,000 in "commitments," $20,000 of that in cash. He estimated the cost of his primary campaign at $250,000 and said he would have to spend the same amount if he gets into the November runoff, which will be held if none of the candidates get 50% of the votes in the June 3 election.
Mandatory campaign finance reports show that as of Dec. 31, Roth had taken in $212,349 and still had $162,967 left. Beam raised $189,663 last year, with a surplus of $82,010 year's end. Patterson was not required to file a statement because he didn't raise any money for the race last year.
Patterson did praise Beam for the Orange mayor's attack on Roth last week for accepting contributions from billboard companies and supporting putting billboards along freeways running through Anaheim.
"It's too bad that it took pressure from fellow council members, the public and the press's exposure of his financial contributions from billboard companies to change his (Roth's) position," Patterson said.
Roth denied any link between the contributions and his reversal of his longstanding opposition to billboards. Following the criticism, Roth was expected to once again oppose the billboards last month, but the matter did not come to a vote.
Patterson also called the lawsuit between Anaheim and the Angels baseball team "another tragic mistake that Don Roth has made."
The Angels are suing Anaheim over the city's plans to build a high-rise building on the parking lot of Anaheim stadium.
The city has refused to disclose how much it has spent on its five lawsuits involving the Angels, saying only that as of November, when the trial began, it had shelled out $307,694 in legal fees for one of the suits.
'Ought to Share'
"Why won't Roth tell the Anaheim taxpayers how much of their money is being spent on attorneys' fees against our hometown Angels?" Patterson said. "Mayor Roth ought to share what's going on with us."
Roth said that because Patterson is an attorney, he "should know better" than to demand a discussion of a case now on trial. The mayor said that there was nothing to hide but that the city's lawyers advised him not to discuss the matter.
"When you spend this kind of money to get good legal counsel, you should listen to it," Roth said.