No one has yet formally stepped forward as a candidate for the five-member Laguna Beach school board, where three terms expire in November, according to the registrar of voters.
The opposite is true for the Laguna Beach City Council where a crowd of residents have declared their intentions as candidates for three contested seats. The latest to come forward is first-time candidate Elizabeth Bates.
The formal month-long filing period for candidates seeking election to school board and city council opened on Monday, July 16. Individuals seeking public office must fulfill the requirements, such as signature collection and proof of residency, for the November ballot by Aug. 15.
At least one school board seat is wide open as incumbent Ketta Brown, in an interview this week, reiterated a pledge she made earlier to not seek a fourth term. Incumbent Dee Perry signaled her intent to seek re-election, but has yet to formally file, while Carol Normandin did not respond to a request for comment.
As clerk of the school board, Perry, a retired elementary school teacher, is next in line to serve as president if voters return her to office. She said she intends to file, but could not complete her online application with the registrar of voters due to an inadvertent birth-date error.
Jan Vickers remains the board president. Voters returned Vickers to office in 2016 as well as having elected Peggy Wolff, a longtime school volunteer leader.
“I loved it,” Brown said of her 12 years in office. “You have to have a passion for it.”
Even so, Brown’s reached a point personally where she no longer wants her schedule dictated by the school calendar.
In reflecting on what’s ahead for school leaders, Brown predicted that a district initiative to address the social and emotional needs of students with best practices will require a school board that is “constantly vigilant.” Vigilance is also a requisite of avoiding “adoption fatigue,” to ensure that staff and teachers “are moving in the same direction” as the district integrates new curriculum. “There’s always work to be done,” Brown said.
One of three seats on the Laguna Beach City Council is also wide open with Mayor Kelly Boyd planning to retire from public life. Incumbent Rob Zur Schmiede has said he intends to seek re-election and the council’s longest serving member, Toni Iseman, has not made her plans known.
This week, Bates picked up nominating papers. Three others have also done so, including animal activist Judie Mancuso, Planning Commission member Sue Kempf and former council member and accountant Cheryl Kinsman, said City Clerk Lisette Chel. Candidates must submit the signatures of at least 20 registered voters to qualify for the ballot, Chel said.
At least three others, former council member and landscape architect Ann Christoph, gallerist Peter Blake and Laguna Canyon activist Lorene Laguna have also informally declared similar intentions in recent months.
In a Facebook page declaring her candidacy on June 10, Bates described herself as a life-long resident, real estate industry entrepreneur, activist, volunteer and mother of four.
“What has always made Laguna special still very much exists today, however, as change and progress move us forward we are faced with new, tough decisions to safe-guard our community,”she said and promised to find ways to solve Laguna’s “trigger-issues.” She defined these as traffic, lack of parking, homelessness, reconstructing the Design Review Board by making it easier for businesses to thrive and giving power back to property owners, addressing under-grounding, and giving priority to residents.
“We need to evolve with the time. This can be done with a diverse group of leaders dedicated to the residents and business owners of Laguna,” said Bates, who also intends to champion the mental and physical health of children and environmental policies such as solar energy and bans on plastic straws, shopping bags and single-use water bottles. “I look forward to being a servant of the community I love,” she said.
Christoph Starts Campaign Fundraising
Christoph for Council plans a campaign kick-off for Ann Christoph on Sunday, July 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the home of Mark and Cindy Evans, 435 Hilledge Drive.
The fundraiser will include live music by the Garden Band and refreshments.
A donation of $75 is requested. RSVP to ChristophForCouncil.com or call 949 499-1804.
A 47-year resident, Christoph is a former Laguna Beach mayor, CityCouncil member and Planning Commissioner. She is a landscape architect, Laguna Beach business owner and longtime Independent columnist. She was a leader and designer of projects such as Alta Laguna Park, Bluebird Park, Village Green, the city-wide Landscape and Scenic Highways plan that includes the Coast Highway planted medians, and the Community Garden Park.
In 2005 the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club selected Christoph as its Woman of the Year saying, “We honor Ann Christoph for her leadership, integrity and visionary dedication to the City of Laguna Beach, and we thank her for her efforts to protect our city and its environment.”