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HOWARD HART, San Juan Capistrano Mayor Pro Tem

When a candidate decides to run for public office, they decide on their ballot description, describing themselves to the voter in three words or fewer. The rules can be stringent. For instance, despite having spent 30 years as a Navy officer, I was prohibited from mentioning my prior service.

By listing himself as “Councilmember/USMC Liaison,” 74th District Assembly candidate Chris Duncan tells us precisely who he is, and it has nothing to do with the Marine Corps. Mr. Duncan never served in any service branch. He never experienced the harsh discipline and sacrifices that many of us (and especially Marines) – who are not permitted to list our former service – experienced. If he had, he wouldn’t have been permitted to list it.

Was Duncan’s ballot designation technically inaccurate? No. Like most City Councilmembers, Mr. Duncan gets handed a few additional assignments to serve. Duncan is the San Clemente City Council’s Liaison to Camp Pendleton but these assignments take only a few hours of a City Councilmember’s time every year. I could not fathom using such a minor assignment as a means of describing myself on a ballot. 

I understand the temptation. Duncan is an attorney. Voters do not like attorneys but they sure like Marines! Why not wrap himself in the flag of our beloved Marine Corps?! And if someone challenges him, Duncan can just say how proud he is to have spent all those dozens of minutes of his time as a USMC Liaison.

Mr. Duncan made a deliberate choice to identify himself with one of our armed forces branches for political advantage. This was not only unethical but it was a slap in the face to those veterans he seeks to represent. 

It is said that when someone tells you who they are, believe them. In his ballot description, Mr. Duncan has done so. I encourage you to vote for Laurie Davies.

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