Leon Worden

A politician by any other name...

By Leon Worden
Wednesday, October 23, 1996

hat's in a name? A lot, if you're talking about the people who seek our votes in the upcoming November 5 election.

Let me start over. I was surfing the Net the other day when I came across an advertisement that suggested I could look up my own name and discover what my great-grandparents could have been thinking when they tagged my newborn grandfather "Leon."

I clicked on the little Internet ad and zapped over to "Best Name for your Baby" by Barbara Binswanger and Lisbeth Mark. As I sifted through the entries, I was struck by the correlation between several real-life candidates and the meanings of their given names.

Take Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, for instance. Howard comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for "protector of the home." Now tell me. Does that name fit him, or what?

Buck's Libertarian challenger is Bruce Acker. Bruce means "thicket." Indeed, the guy has about as much chance of winning as a clump of bushes. On the Democratic side, the candidate's name is Diane. Diane comes from the Latin word for "divine." I think I'll leave that one alone.

George Runner wants an Assembly seat. George means "farmer," which is about as dynamic as "thicket" until you consider that his opponent is Dave Cochran. Far be it for me to besmirch the Davids of the world — there are too many of you out there — but doesn't a name meaning "beloved" seem just a tad ethereal for a politician?

Our current Assemblyman, Pete Knight, is on his way to the State Senate. Peter means "rock" — as in "solid," the book explains, not "headed." But Pete is only a nickname. As a schoolboy, the young Knight would teasingly wiggle his nose at the girls in class. One little girl said it made him look like Peter Rabbit, and the name stuck. Pete's Christian name is William, which is Old German for "valiant protector." Lock and load.

Pete might not appreciate having a namesake in Bill Clinton, but the President's mom apparently knew what she was doing. Clinton means "town by a hill." Put it together and you've got "valiant protector of a town by a hill." Capitol Hill, that is. Hillary, incidentally, means "cheer."

Remember the last debate, when Bob Dole talked about his "wisdom?" Well, Robert means "bright."

Algore means "wooden tobacco farmer." Just kidding. Albert is "bright" like Robert, and "noble," to boot. But that probably won't help when Gore faces Jack Kemp in four years. Kemp means "champion."

West of Interstate 5, Cathie Wright is running for Senate and Tom McClintock is running for Assembly. Cathie is "pure." Tom is a "twin." Whose, I don't know.

There is another "valiant protector" in Canyon Country and Saugus, where Bill Cooper is running for water board. In Northbridge, Castaic and Stevenson Ranch, it's Jim Gates. James is an anglicized form of Jacob and the patron saint of Spain. In Newhall and Valencia, the water board candidate is Jerry Gladbach. Gerald, his middle name, is Old French for "spear warrior," the book says. Jerry's first name, Edward, means "guardian." His water opponent is named Lynne. Lynne means "waterfall." No kidding. Plenty of folks in Sand Canyon and Stevenson Ranch would like to throw her over one.

I know they aren't on this ballot, but let's look at the City Council anyway. Carl comes from Charles, which is Old English for "manly." I'm not making this up. JoAnne and Janice are both variations of "John" and mean "God is gracious." Clyde, his middle name, is Welsh for "heard from afar." Clyde's first name, Hamilton, comes from "Hamlet," meaning "home." You'd think he yells a lot at home. Jill, actually an abbreviation of her middle name, is "youthful." Jill's first name, Mary, is "bitter." Go figure.

How about The Signal? We've got another "valiant protector" in Will Fleet. Tim Whyte? "Honoring God." John Boston? "God's grace." As in "there, but for the grace of God, goes John Boston again." Carol Rock? As Carl is manly, so is Carol "womanly." Patti Rasmussen? "Noble one." Richard Rioux? "Powerful ruler" in Old German, "brave one" in Old English. Dan Hon? "God is my judge." Lawyer. Judge. Get it?

Oh, yes. Leon comes from "lion-hearted." Go ahead. Put 'em up. Put 'em uppp.

    Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident.

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