Candidate Bids for Laguna’s City Council

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Robert Zurschmiede
Robert Zur Schmiede

Robert Zur Schmiede, a 12-year appointee to the city’s Planning Commission, is the first to declare his intention to seek election in November to Laguna Beach’s City Council, filing a campaign committee statement last Friday, Jan. 17.

The terms of the Council’s three longest-serving members, Mayor Elizabeth Pearson as well as Council members Toni Iseman and Kelly Boyd, expire this year. As of this week, none of them are willing to publicly declare their intentions.

Pearson, appointed president and chief executive of the Pacific Chorale last March, and Iseman, a retired community college counselor, who have served on the council 12 and 15 years, respectively, say they are undecided over seeking re-election. Boyd, who is recovering from a cancer treatment that requires him to avoid crowds, said his health will tip his decision. “If I stay in remission and I put the weight back on, more than likely I will,” said Boyd, who expects to finalize his decision in a few months.

August is the official cutoff for candidates to file in order to be included in the November ballot.

In an interview, Zur Schmiede, 59, said his campaign is not intended to unseat any of the incumbents. His motivation lies in seeing to fruition initiatives begun during his tenure on the Planning Commission,where he now serves as chairman, such as the hiring of an urban planner to supervise a revision of the downtown specific plan.

“I have a good background and experience that will be of value to the city,” said Zur Schmiede, who professionally has worked on public policy matters and civic projects as a management consultant with Fullerton-based Kelly Associates. “There are lots of things going on with long-term implications,” he said, which go beyond the land use and design review issues that preoccupy the Planning Commission.

His wife, Robin, a former city attorney in Newport Beach, also serves as an appointee to the city’s Design Review Board.

If his candidacy succeeds, Zur Schmiede recognizes some may see a potential conflict in his wife’s continuing service, though he has not asked her to step aside. Robin Zur Schmiede said she supports her husband’s candidacy and thus will not seek reappointment in October. Her term expires at the end of next January.

Though others urged him to seek office earlier, Zur Schmiede said the timing is better now since by his own choice he’s cut back on his professional workload.

His early political supporters include fellow Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson and Matt Lawson, both part of his campaign organization. He expects he must raise $50,000 for a successful campaign.

Iseman, a 15-year council member, still is consumed by ideas that she would like to see implemented, but confesses to uncertainty about running again. “It feels like a long way off,” she said. Part of her decision-making rests on who else runs, she said.

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