Today's fare is a political smorgasbord. Help yourself to as much as you want:

  • You can tell the campaign season is in full bloom when every cyclone fence on every vacant lot is plastered with political signs. It's well known in political circles that when voters seek clarity, they look for it on vacant lots.

    It's not easy, of course, to evaluate candidates based on messages squeezed onto 18-by-24-inch campaign signs, but it's far less bothersome than listening to those tedious public forums.

    The first thing to look for is color scheme: The smart choice is red, white and blue. If there's a photo, you want to see candidates grinning but not ear-to-ear. (It makes you wonder what they've been up to.) Finally, there's the slogan. Does it make them stand out?

    My favorite among the local council races comes from Concord candidate Harmesh Kumar: "Vote for a better life." It's simple, upbeat, high sounding and just vague enough to come with no strings attached.

    Be wary of candidates who shop at the same slogan store. Walnut Creek's Justin Wedel and Concord's Ed Birsan each went with "People, not politics!" The alliteration is nice, but low marks for originality.

    Alany Helmantoler is taking the old-school approach to wooing Concord voters ("A Candidate for the People"), which clearly distinguishes her from all the candidates who are against the people. As fond as she is of gun rights, I would have gone with "A Real Straight Shooter."


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  • Of all the accusations hurled at council candidates, perhaps the most unusual is the one aimed at Danville's Renee Morgan. She's been publicly called out for not being an architect. Sure, she has a degree in architectural design drafting, but she doesn't have an architect's license.

    Maryann Cella, a community activist, took issue with Morgan's ballot self-description as "businesswoman/architectural designer." We all know the tidal wave of support that sweeps candidates into office when they capture the architect vote.

  • The uproar that has unsettled the Clayton council race can be attributed to a slightly larger problem. Former Vice Mayor Joe Medrano dropped his bid for re-election last week after a Redwood City jury found him guilty of one count of felony embezzlement. Some regard this failing as even more serious than architectural misrepresentation.

    Curiously, the first council meeting without Medrano present included recognition of students who participated in a character education program called "Do the Right Thing." You know, that might make a good campaign slogan.

  • Retiring Richmond Councilman Jeff Ritterman won't be running in November, but that doesn't mean he's out of the news. The former cardiologist is best known for sponsoring the Measure N "soda tax" that's intended to fight obesity by: 1) adding a one-cent-per-ounce tax to all sugar-sweetened drinks sold in the city, and 2) forcing thirsty residents to get off their lazy duffs and drive to San Pablo to buy their sugar-sweetened beverages.

    That's a loose interpretation.

    Last week, though, he also made noise about demanding compensation from Chevron for the health and economic damages caused by its Aug. 6 refinery fire. That's on top of the thousands of medical bills the company already paid.

    Whether you agree or disagree with his tactics, Ritterman is always willing to stick his neck out. That just might be the best slogan of all.

    Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at twitter.com/tombarnidge.