By Julian Nazar
Following the November midterm elections, the Aliso Viejo City Council convened on November 9 for its bi-monthly meeting. At this meeting, similar to others, both local individuals and businesses were recognized for their outstanding service to the community. In this case, Kaylin Maddox, a graduate from St. Mary’s School, was awarded a certification for her 18-month community service project at the children’s museum in Irvine. Through this project, she successfully provided musical education to children who previously did not have such opportunities.
Pinot Palette was honored as the feature business of the month. The business provides guests painting lessons from skilled instructors while sipping on glasses of wine. The allure of this business is perfectly summed up by its catchy slogan “don’t have to be a pro to paint like Van Gogh.” Once all the awards had been handed out, city council members introduced several different ordinances. Most notably, one of the ordinances called for upgrading the offense of urination and defecation in public places to a misdemeanor which elicited snickers from the audience.
However, amidst all the routine city council agenda items and common procedural matters, a woman seated in the front of the room held a sign that read “UR NXT.” During the proceedings, the woman, Lubna Hammad, slouched in her chair. Her somber mood stood out as a sharp contrast to the jovial nature of the night’s proceedings.
After the meeting concluded, the city sheriff asked Hammad if her sign was advocating direct violence against one of the members of the city council. She assured him that it was only a political message. For her, “UR NXT” directly referred to the one of the male councilmembers, Dave Harrington, who she would like to see lose his seat in future elections. She strongly felt that in order for the city council to make more representative decisions, there needed to be more women on the city council. For example, she vehemently disagreed with one of Harrington’s previously proposed resolutions which would have effectively signaled the city’s intent to ignore the state sanctuary law.
In addition, according to her, the current mayor at the time, Dave Harrington repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to work across party lines. Lastly, like other citizens, Hammad still felt particularly aggrieved by the events that transpired at a meeting on April 2017 where the sanctuary state issue was hotly debated. Specifically, in her view, the mayor had “embraced the views of racists out of town over those expressed by average citizens of Aliso Viejo.” Conversations with Soka students that attended this meeting echoed these sentiments. Hammad hopes that the election of Tiffany Ackley to the city council will usher in a new period in the city’s politics where councilmembers are held more accountable for their transgressions and are able to overcome the hyperpartisanship that seems to plague politics at all levels.