More than a year before the terms of two Laguna Beach City Council positions expire, the wheels of political campaigns are already in motion, with incumbent Verna Rolling holding a recent fundraiser.
And last week, former council member and mayor Steve Dicterow tossed his hat in the ring as a contender. “You have to get right in there,” he said, since he knew he wanted to run and Rollinger has “already declared kick off.”
In an e-mail exchange, Jane Egly, the other incumbent whose term is up, signaled she also plans to run again, with the “kick off to
Bob Whalen conceded that he is considering running for City Council as well and expects to “make a final decision soon.” An attorney in the Newport Beach office of Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth, Whalen currently serves as a city planning commissioner and as board president of the Boys & Girls Club. He previously served as president of SchoolPower and formerly was elected to Laguna’s school board.
State senate aide Emanuel Petrascu, unsuccessful as the sole contender against the three council incumbents in the 2010, does not “at this time” intend to run again in 2012.
Dicterow ended three consecutive terms in office when he dropped out of the 2006 race, citing unexpected work demands that might take him out of the country that fall and that precluded his ability to spend the necessary time campaigning. His practice managing the affairs of professional motorcyclists turned south along with the economy. Currently, Dicterow serves as executive vice president of the National Collegiate Sports Invitational, among other business ventures.
When he was first elected in 1994, Dicterow said that he had a clear agenda that was largely realized within two years. Now, he says city policies have drifted off that course.
Dicterow praised the current council members as hard-working and caring people, but feels the city has lost sight of the priorities he envisioned, and he feels compelled to help get it back on track. “Hopefully the voters will feel that my vision is closer to theirs,” he said. He also emphasized that he can now devote plenty of time to the City Council and that none of his business interests would require him to leave town.
“It’s not unusual for me to start early,” said Rollinger, explaining the timing of her recent fundraiser hosted by Kathy and Mike Conway on Sept. 25.
“I like to let the community know what my intentions are as I near the end of a term,” added the veteran campaigner, who was elected seven times during her 30-year tenure as city clerk.
Rollinger was also the first to announce her bid for a City Council seat in the 2006 election, which she lost. She described her 2008 campaign bid as an anomaly, due to her last-minute decision to run and ultimately win that race.
As a council member, Rollinger’s priorities have included work on the first Business Task Force; moving the Village Entrance project forward; supporting the
development of lifeguard headquarters; establishing safe areas to walk and ride bikes, starting with Laguna Canyon Road; and establishing the Laguna Canyon Flood Mitigation Task Force.
The campaign doesn’t officially start until candidates file ballot statements with the county clerk next summer, and Rollinger prefers not to anticipate which issues will be paramount to her campaign at this early stage. She said past concerns have centered on quality of life issues, protecting the environment (ocean water quality and open space) and neighborhoods, public safety, and providing services to residents.
Dicterow, too, declined to reveal a particular campaign focus, but said issues that need to be addressed are public safety, fiscal responsibility, maintaining and improving infrastructure, and cutting through the bureaucratic red tape at City Hall for businesses and homeowners alike.
“Frankly, I know I’m kind of a boring guy,” admitted Dicterow. “Police and fire protection, and maintaining streets – to me that’s what really matters at the local level, and I want to do the best job for that,” he said, promising more specifics as his campaign advances.