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Cassel makes another run at office

June 18, 2004

Josh Kleinbaum

As soon as Christy Cassel approached Eric Howorka, she knew she had a

live one. He smiled, he slowed down -- he was hooked. Cassel began to

reel him in.

For five minutes, Cassel told Howorka about herself and her

political views, convincing him to sign a petition so she can run for

state Senate. Finally, Howorka signed on the dotted line. In an

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hour's work, Cassel had less than a dozen signatures.

"Why not?" Howorka said. "It's a free market. We need a free

market in politics as well as the economy. We need to have lots of

choice."

One problem with this success story: Howorka lives in Los Angeles,

outside of Cassel's Senate District 21 -- which means his signature

is useless. Cassel lives in La Canada Flintridge, and her district

includes Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Altadena, San Gabriel and La

Canada Flintridge.

Such is life for Cassel, who must collect more than 12,000

signatures by Aug. 6 to qualify for the November election.

Most people walking by Cassel's table last week outside of

Glendale's Home Depot had no idea who she was. A small, handwritten

sign says that she is running for the state Senate. On her folding

table, above red and blue tablecloths, an array of business cards and

printouts from her website show her priorities -- overhauling the

education system, eliminating fat from the state budget, reducing

taxes and instituting a public healthcare system. Her background in

accounting and auditing gives her the necessary experience to

implement those ideas, she said, although she did not outline a

specific plan.

The literature is outdated. The business cards and the website

still say "Christy Cassel for Governor" -- Cassel ran in October's

recall free-for-all election, when Arnold Schwarzenegger unseated

Gray Davis. She failed to get her name on the ballot, and received

two votes as an official write-in candidate.

"I'm going to have new business cards soon, and update the

website," said Cassel, who began collecting signatures for the Senate

race June 9. "I learned a lot [from the gubernatorial election]. You

have to be persistent. People are very nice, very informative, but

you have to be persistent."

And she learned how difficult it is for an independent to get on a

ballot, let alone win an election. If she makes it to the election,

she will go up against state Sen. Jack Scott (D-Glendale), a popular

incumbent with strong support from his party. In today's political

system, candidates from the major parties have the funds and the

backing to get to voters. Cassel has her folding table and her

business cards.

Cassel said she used to be registered with one of the two major

parties, although she declined to say which. But she said as she

watched both parties in California drift to the extremes, she drifted

toward the center.

"I felt more at home with being an independent," Cassel said. "I

think it represents who I am. I'm in the middle of the road -- not

too far left, not too far right. I'm not a fanatic in either

direction.

"It is hard to get on the ballot as an independent. A lot of

people pick a party just to get in. It is easier, no question. But

I'm going to try it this way."

Which means Cassel is putting her political future in the hands of

the shoppers at Home Depot and other area stores.

"She seems pretty friendly," said Marco Taoatao, a Glendale

resident who signed Cassel's petition. "Usually a candidate doesn't

come out like that. So I said what the heck, let's give her a

chance."

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