A candidate for the Marin County Board of Supervisors attacks an opponent because of the church he attends.
Days before Tuesday’s election, Kevin Morrison, Novato’s communications consultant and candidate for District 5 headquarters, sent a letter to 10,000 voters in the district with the headline: “The Values of Extremist Eric Lucan.”
Lucan, who served 11 years on Novato City Council, and Morrison are among four candidates vying for the seat. The sender arrived earlier this week, but similar messages were sent via social media weeks earlier.
The sender says Lucan is an ordained minister at Novato’s New Life Church, which “considers the practice of abortion evil” and teaches that “homosexual behavior is a sin.” The sender also indicates that the Lucan Church is telling congregants to “work with legislative and governmental agencies to prohibit abortion.”
In one of his emails, Morrison calls his opponent “Minister Lucan” and says his church calls transgender people “abominations”.
“I think it’s fair that people want to know where the candidates are at,” Morrison said Thursday. “Eric is an ordained minister in an extreme anti-abortion, anti-privacy church.”
Shortly after Morrison’s campaign mail began arriving at voters’ homes, Lucan posted a response on his campaign website.
“My personal faith has been knowingly and dishonestly twisted in a final politically motivated attack,” Lucan wrote. “It has no place anywhere in our community. As my opponent knows very well, I have always been proud of our LGBTQ+ community. My opponent also knows that I unequivocally affirm a woman’s right to choose. There is already too much dishonesty and negative campaigning at the national level…here at home, let’s stick to the issues.
“I hate that I even had to post a response to this, but this article crossed a line,” Lucan said Wednesday, shortly after taking part in a Pride flag-raising ceremony at City Hall. Novato in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
Lucan noted that her endorsements include the Marin County Democrats, Marin County Young Democrats, and the Marin Women’s Political Action Committee.
Lucan is a member of New Life Church of Novato, which is part of the Assemblies of God, a group of self-governing, self-governing churches that together make up the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. He is an ordained minister. He earned a bachelor’s degree in ministerial studies from Christian Life International, which is loosely affiliated with the Assemblies of God.
Lucan served as the youth pastor and financial director of New Life Church from approximately 2006 to 2010. Since then, he has spoken at the church several times.
In April 2021, in a talk he gave on the topic of belonging, Lucan said, “I am so grateful for the diversity that exists in this church. But there is still so much work to do. We must be leaders in promoting racial equality in our community. We cannot walk into the church and be all excited to belong, but then keep silent about the matter outside of the church.
Lucan was never a senior pastor at New Life Church. He worked as chief marketing manager for Mike’s Bikes at Novato since 2014 and before that as director of digital strategy and merchandising for Kimpton Hotels for four years.
Morrison said he began researching Lucan church doctrine after a proposed Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade went public in May. The position that Morrison attributes to the New Life Church comes from the “declaration of fundamental truths” of the Assemblies of God. A “our beliefs” link on the New Life church website connects to the statement.
Lucan says he simply disagrees with his church’s teachings on some key issues.
“If I were to attend a place of worship or a congregation where everything is exactly who I am, I would be the only attendee,” Lucan said, “because everyone has a wide variety of beliefs.”
He pointed out that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remain devout Catholics even as they differ from the church’s positions on some issues.
Morrison said he received an “overwhelmingly positive response” to his questioning of Lucan’s religious beliefs.
A number of people rallied to Lucan’s defense. On his campaign website, Lucan invites his supporters to add their names to a list of people speaking out against Morrison’s “negative campaign.”
One of the signatories, Peggy Hill, wrote: “I received the attack piece in the mail yesterday, immediately threw it in the trash – I support Eric Lucan and know the political attack was a dirty sweep, not based on Lucan’s outstanding work on The Novato City Council.
The Independent Journal received several unsolicited letters supporting Lucan. Eric and Karen Andresen of Novato wrote that they had recently received the mail from Morrison.
“It involves Mr. Lucan standing for the most extreme principles they could find about New Life Church in Novato. They give no credit to Mr. Lucan for having thought and acted for himself,” the letter read. “There is no place in Marin for dirty tactics like this 7 days before the election. Or never.
Jean Mariani de Novato also wrote shortly after receiving the mail.
“It would be no different to make my Catholic faith part of my political participation,” wrote Mariani, “And frankly, our Archbishop is driving me absolutely nuts with his Neanderthal approach to, well, everything – if anyone tells me asked. But what is this hit play doing in a Marin campaign?”
Morrison said he was a practicing Catholic and attended Catholic school for 12 years, first at Our Lady of Loretto School in Novato and then at St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma.
“I have issues with my church,” Morrison said. “The church is a fallible human institution, but it is not an extremist church like the Assemblies of God.”
On Thursday, Morrison said he contributed an additional $5,000 of his own money to his campaign. To date, Morrison has invested $33,000 of his own money in his campaign, bringing in just over $9,600 from other contributors.
Lucan, who has invested none of his own money in his campaign, said he received just over $60,000 in campaign contributions, more than any other candidate in the race.
The other two candidates in the running are Jason Sarris and Colin Medalie, who both live in Novato.