Another name surfacing as a candidate for the 4th Supervisor District is Fullerton resident Joe Kerr, an ardent Democrat and retired Orange County firefighter who for many years was the pugnacious president of the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association, which represents Orange County Fire Authority firefighters. According to this Bloomberg profile, he is currently chairman and president of Superior Traffic Controls, LLC, which “engages in the research and development, manufacture, and distribution of traffic safety and incident management products.”
Kerr would certainly be able to count on the support of the OCPFA and presumably the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA). Those two unions, along with the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS), constitute the strategic triad of county-wide government employee unions – with thousands of members and huge combined political warchests.
There’s no guarantee the AOCDS will throw its million-dollar-plus campaign fund behind Kerr. In 2005, Kerr and the OCPFA fought a bitter and expensive ballot initiative battle against the AOCDS over Measure D – which would have increased the OC Fire Authority’s share of Prop. 172 tax dollars at the expense of the sheriff’s department. The AOCDS won that fight; perhaps time heals all wounds, even in politics.
As noted in previous OC Daily coverage, the partisan balance in the 4th Supervisor District has tilted significantly toward the Democrats due to their aggressive voter registration efforts in 2016. As 2016 began, the district was 37% Democrat and 35.4% Republican. Now, the 4th District is 40.2% Democrat, 32.4% Republican and 23.4% No Party Preference.
If he runs, Kerr will have a solid ballot title like “Businessman/Retired Firefighter.” If there are numerous Republican candidates while Kerr is the only Democrat – and backed by huge government employee union spending – he would almost certainly make the general election run-off.
On the flip-side, the county government unions collectively have an iffy track record when it comes to supporting winning supervisorial candidates. For example, termed-out 4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson successfully used the huge OCEA and AOCDS independent expenditures against him and supporting Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu as a campaign weapon against Sidhu.
There are some flies in the ointment.
Kerr strongly opposed Measure V, the ballot initiative approved by Orange County voters in March 2002. Measure V converted OC from a general law to a charter county in order to allow supevisor vacancies to be filled by the voters rather than by gubernatorial appointment; the immediate goal was to prevent then-Governor Gray Davis from filling the impending 3rd District vacancy that would be created bu then-Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s election to the Assembly. Kerr even sued – unsuccessfully – to have Measure V invalidated as unconstitutional.
Kerr was chairman and president of Superior Traffic Controls, LLC, which “engages in the research and development, manufacture, and distribution of traffic safety and incident management products.”
Superior Traffic Controls LCC, has received at least two “desist and refrain” orders from the California Department of Corporations, stating the Nevada corporation’s selling of stocks shares in the company violation of the state corporation code:
“The California Corporations Commissioner is of the opinion that the promissory notes convertible to shares of stock and the warrants for shares of stock in Superior Traffic Controls, LLC are securities subject to qualification under the California Corporate Securities Law of 1968 (California Corporations Code section 25000 et seq.) and are being or have been offered or sold without being qualified in violation of Corporations Code section 25110.“
The first “desist and refrain” order was issued in March 2011, prior to Kerr joining the Superior Traffic Controls. The second was issued in August 2014, stating “Kerr and [CEO Jeffrey] Greeney are hereby ordered to desist and refrain from the further offer or sale of stock in Superior Traffic Controls, Inc. in the State of California.”