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Police Employees Endorse Rollinger, Whalen for Council

Verna Rollinger

Candidate Robert Whalen and incumbent Verna Rollinger received the endorsement of the Laguna Beach Police Employees Association in the November race for election to Laguna Beach’s City Council, President Larry Bammer said Monday.

“It was a difficult decision. Both Mayor Jane Egly and former council member Steve Dicterow also have impressive credentials and substantial track records of service to the city, but Whalen and Rollinger were the clear choice,” said Bammer, who further cited the latter two candidates’ “personal politics” and “campaign viability” as front runners raising funds.

Retired film editor and first time candidate Robert Ross, who qualified for the November ballot earlier this month, was not included in the process.

The police employee group is the first of several organizations expected to make formal endorsements in the contest that pits two incumbents, including the mayor, against two challengers equally seasoned at public-office campaigning. Dicterow previously was elected to Laguna’s City Council, while Whalen won election to Laguna’s school board. The first public candidate forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, in Council Chambers.

Robert Whalen

The four veteran candidates provided written answers to 15 questions and over recent weeks were interviewed by a four-person panel of association members. After the last interview was completed last week, the foursome’s recommendation received the unanimous approval of the association’s seven-person board last Thursday, Bammer said.

The association will make the maximum $360 contribution to the campaigns of each of the four candidates, but will likely take out advertising and make phone calls on behalf of the two endorsed candidates in October, Bammer said. Two years ago, the association endorsed the three incumbents, but didn’t conduct candidate interviews, he said

He described Rollinger, who served for 30 years as an elected city clerk and city employee, as “very pro employee.” In bargaining over recent labor contracts, Laguna, like other cities, pressed employees to pay a portion of their own retirement benefits. Public safety workers were the first to agree to such a concession. Next year, contract talks begin with Laguna’s municipal workers, who gave up raises to avoid layoffs in 2010

“Verna surprised us,” Bammer said, citing her intention to champion the reinstatement of foot patrols in downtown. Rollinger and Whalen, a former school board member, also support the association’s proposal to place an officer on school campuses, citing the proliferation of prescription drug use and overdoses by teens. “We’re the only city that doesn’t have one,” Bammer said.

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