As election season comes to a close, there is a pervading sense of unrest among the citizens.
We see it regardless of what news station we watch or political affiliation we may have.
People want change, results and a belief that our system of government works.
Our community is no different.
You may not have heard about it, but there is an organization which has been meeting some time for years, combining our voices and the votes of business, in what is called the “West Orange County” region: The West OC Legislative Committee.
This community of Chamber leaders from La Palma, Stanton, Los Alamitos, Cypress and Seal Beach—along with representatives from the Joint Forces Training Base, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, and the unincorporated regions of Rossmoor and Sunset Beach—tries to identify core issues and communicate en masse to our legislators.
We meet monthly, on the third Friday of the month, and get updates from the contiguous legislative representatives for the region. Currently, we are served by the following representatives:
• Congressman Dana Rorhbacher (Republican)—46th Congressional District.
• Congressman Ed Royce (Republican)—40th Congressional District.
• County Supervisor John Moorlach (Republican)—2nd Orange County District.
• State Senator Tom Harman (Republican)—35th State District.
• Assemblyman Jim Silva (Republican)—67th State District.
Formed over two decades ago, the organization has provided direction for an often-overlooked region of Orange County.
Theresa Murphy, of the Los Alamitos-based Precious Life Shelter, and a long term member of the committee, indicated that the group has gone through many levels of activity, but has been focused always on informing the business community: “Before legislators started having ‘town hall’ style meetings, we had the annual mixer, where everyone wanted to attend to access them. It [the West OC Legislative Committee] was designed to let the Chambers interface with the aides to our elected officials and bring some notice to our small cities for business purposes and legislative action.”
Recently, we considered several state assembly and senate bills and tried to support or oppose those which were in alignment with the consensus of the entire region.
It is far easier to sway a politician when you have a high percentage of their constituents in agreement.
This past year, we advocated for Senate Bill 954 which would have ensured the evaluation of tax impacts on business prior to adoption, supported Assembly Bill 1812 which would have provided credit for manufacturing businesses and opposed Senate Bill 518, an elimination of free parking in local communities.
Concurrently, there has been a support of the JFTB runway funding and support of the USS Dewey commissioning earlier this year.
The voices of these communities are magnified by their synergy and participation.
There are several ballot issues which are of particular business concern: Proposition 22 (which would remove the state’s ability to take local funds), Proposition 24 (which would remove a tax break for businesses) and Proposition 26 (which would force a two-third vote for most new fees and some taxes).
Overall, the West OC Legislative committee is pro-local control and opposed to new tax increases or removal of existing tax benefits.
Business owners and non-profits have to meet budgets, payroll and regulation standards.
If they don’t, they go out of business. Why doesn’t government? We too have become frustrated with government, but try to work a process of engagement with the legislative aides, who both inform and communicate our needs.
The meetings are also quite different from others in that they are focused on actionable legislative issues. It is a conduit for information from the legislature to our Chambers and communities directly.
If you are interested in attending our meetings, please let me know.
In closing, as co-chair of the West Orange County Legislative Committee, I would remind you of the words of Thomas Jefferson, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Please go vote on Nov. 2. If we don’t hold our politicians accountable, no one will.
Seth Eaker is the immediate past president of the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce and a member of the West Orange County Legislative Committee.