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Beverly Hills, California
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June 6, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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June 6, 2001
 

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It g S r~ t Democratic Club, he said, and began when Sooky Goldman asked Cole to help Leonard Horwin and Frank Clapp get elected to the City Council on a two-person slate. That was in 1962. Since then, Cole has worked for Charles Aronberg, Max Salter, Fred Stern, Lillian Raffel, Mark Egerman (first school board campaign), the Fur Initiative Opposition, the Beverly Hills Library Bonds, the first Beverly Hills School Bond in 196"/and other state and county elections. Whether he's putting a judge on the bench or a parent on the school board, Cole said that qualified candidates in Beverly Hills must have the ability speak well at forums and get strong supporters and campaign dollars. Cole has noticed changes in local campaigns over the years from "more candidates with little chance of winning" to "too many forums with less substance on differences." Cole also said that elections these days often present "fewer clearer issues" than in the past. What does he know now that he wishes he knew then'? "The other way around," Cole replied. "I wish I knew now what I knew when I first began and I wish I had the same idealistic fervor I once had." Plucked From The Crowd Susie Wallach said she was absolutely "stunned" when JoAnn Koplin asked her to get involved with her school board campaign in 1993. "I had worked on the parcel tax campaigns but in small ways, as block captains," Wallach said. "I was intrigued, but I had no idea what I was in for. It gave me a real good insight into the city. I saw that a small school board election Could become dirty, dirty, ditty:' .Another surprise for Wallach came when she learned how much money is spent on [~cal campaigns. "I was blown away," Wallach said, especially when she met candidates from neigh- boring communities who spent less than $5,000 on their election runs while Beverly Hills hopefuls regularly shelled out $35,000 to $50,000. "There's always been candidates that have run that have tried to do a lower budget," Wallach said. "Generally, they don't win, though Gerald Lunn was able to do it." In addition to Koplin and Lunn, Wallach has been involved with the school board campaigns of Barry Brucker and Allison Okyle, and has worked with city council can- didates including Tom Levyn, MeraLee Goldman and Marly Geimer. : She says that she doesn't see a "huge difference" between the races for school board and city council. "Most of the people who are active know everybody," Wallach said. But she points to certain keys to success. '"I think you have to have a very strong' committee, with recognizable names" she said. "Door to door walking is also absolutely a key to winning a campaign." Mailers are also important, along with advertising, Wallach said, though she warned that over exposure can backfire. "I've seen where people have so advertised themselves that it turned people off," Wallach said. She also mentioned the importance of newspaper endorsements and said some resi- dents in the older population may "rely" on the endorsements given by March Schwartz, the veteran publisher of the Beverly Hills Courier. "h's very interesting to me that somebody would look at one person's opinion," Wallach said. The Importance of Bein Erwin Sadly, one important opinion has "6een missing from Beverly Hills politics since Erwin Okun passed away eight years ago. Fortunately, his wile Judy is still active in local campaigns and recounts the strategies and successes the husband-and-wife team enjoyed over the years. The Okun's moved to Beverly Hills in the early 70s, and put their three children in local schools. Their involvement on the local political scene shortly followed. Okun remembers a rainy morning when she sat in Mickey Hewman's bedroom getting advice about campaign tactics as the Okun's prepared to help their first candidate, Jerry Weinstein, who eventually served on the school board from 1977 to 1985. "We were totally new at running a campaign," Okun said. She described that first elec- tion as "very much grassroots." "We self-addressed the city four times. Can you believe that? We had the most loyal senior citizens [volunteering.] "We walked the city until we were Charliehorsed." Okun would get her children off to school in the morning and devote the rest of her day t~ a campaign. When Erwin returned from the office at the end of the day, the two of them spent the rest of the evening working together - sometimes until midnight. "When Erwin and I ran a campaign we were totally dedicated to it," Okun said. "We ~'ere interested in the schools and the city. There was no payola. It was very satisfying to know that you could make a difference." Okun credits her husband, who had been a news reporter and then worked as a com- nlUnications executive at IBM, with helping the candidates craft a clear and concise cont. on page 16 Have you heard of the Power Lunch? ... Now it's time for the "PowerWash." CAI WA.qilH A visit to the famous Santa Palm Car Wash is a unique experience. While your car is given the star treatment, you might just make that big deal, sign a new client, or run into a few stars yourself. This Hollywood landmark washes over 12,000 cars a month, including thousands of Mercedes, Jags, BMW's, Lexus' and other luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of Rolls Royces. Don't drive an E-class? Not to worry, our Hand Wash Plus leaves even standard autos beaming. We treat every car like a luxury car. 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