By HOWARD FINE
Now that it appears likely a single charter reform measure will end up on the June ballot, proponents face the daunting task of selling the measure to voters.
Several obstacles stand in the way: Voter turnout is expected to be low, charter reform is tremendously complex, and an opposition campaign might be mounted by secession advocates in the San Fernando Valley.
"This is not a sexy issue that by itself is going to drive people to the polls," said Matt Klink, director of political campaigns for L.A.-based Cerrell & Associates, which has run several local campaigns, including last fall's successful city zoo bond measure. "It's going to take lots of money at least $1 million or $2 million a clear, concise message and a concerted effort to get out the vote."
Local campaign consultants said likely funding sources for the charter reform campaign will be local businesses, labor unions and the wealthy friends of Mayor Richard Riordan.
Garnering widespread support from the city's political, business and labor establishment is essential.
"The efforts on controversial issues which have succeeded in the past have generally had a very diverse, geographically balanced core support group," said Richard Lichtenstein, a political consultant and president of L.A.-based Marathon Communications Inc. "You need to bring as many people into the tent as possible."
Once opinion leaders are "in the tent," getting voters to check yes on their ballots will be easier because "the campaign literature will show endorsements from all these groups," said Appointed Charter Reform Commission Chairman George Kieffer. "This is similar to how bond-issue campaigns are run: The public will see how broad the support is and will be more inclined to support it themselves."
Most important, Klink and Lichtenstein said, is leadership in the campaign from Riordan.
"The extent to which the mayor is engaged will help charter reform pass," Klink said. "He is very popular in the San Fernando Valley and can persuade a lot of the voters there to come to polls. Just as important is his ability to raise significant amounts of money."
Riordan was in Curitiba, Brazil last week, looking at that city's busway system, and was unavailable for comment. Spokesman Dean Leavenworth said the mayor will continue using the bully pulpit to explain the need for charter reform. He noted that Riordan campaigned vigorously to win voter approval for Proposition 8, which created the Elected Charter Reform Commission.
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