By Gary Walker
A group of Mar Vista residents, weary of being bombarded with campaign mailers during elections, is seeking relief from materials sent by the truckload to their homes during election seasons.
Members of the Green Committee of the Mar Vista Community Council introduced a motion at the council’s April 9 meeting recommending that their board approve a resolution asking city officials to allow those who do not want to receive election related mail at their homes to “opt out” of getting the mailers.
The council members decided to postpone the matter until next month after they could not agree on whether it could pass legal muster.
The committee was contacted by Alicia Arlow, a Venice business owner who is frustrated with the deluge of campaign mail during the March municipal election.
“She challenged us on how can these candidates be supported by the environmental community when the process is so wasteful,” said Sherri Akers, a member of the Green Committee. “We used an online paper calculator to determine that if each voter gets 200 pieces of mail in a campaign and the paper is 10 percent recycled content, then 3,400 trees were used to do the campaign mail.
“We aren’t suggesting that the candidates’ rights to communicate by mail be limited: but rather that just like our bills, we have the option of going paperless,” Akers explained. “I read the blogs and emails and social media output for each of (the candidates) and they don’t need to mail me paper. But it should be provided for those who prefer it.
“And frankly, we should have the option of selecting the mail from the candidates without having to also take it from unions, organizations and super pacs.”
Melissa Stoller, a co-chair of the Green Committee, thinks candidates for office should reconsider whom they target with campaign mail.
“Wouldn’t their money be better spent reaching voters who aren’t irritated by the deluge and are perhaps more likely to be persuaded by the dubious ‘information’ provided?” she asked.
“This last campaign – like all the others before it – the mail went straight into my recycle bin. For the next campaign, I think I’ll keep track of how much is sent on behalf of each candidate and ballot measure; this time the campaign mail might, for the first time, influence my vote.”
Akers compared the request to one that has become quite popular with the public pertaining to telemarketing calls.
“Just like we can ask to be put on the do-not-call list, we need to be able to request being put on a do-not-mail list. Most of this goes straight to recycling, hopefully not to trash,” she said.
“Look at how wonderfully (Councilman) Bill Rosendahl’s office communicates with us on issues via his blog, email newsletters and social media. Why should campaigns be different?”
A motion proposing that campaigns that receive matching funds from the city be required to print their mailed advertisements in a sustainable manner was also tabled until May.