City Candidate Sets Up a Big Tent



Robert Zur Schmiede, right, greets a supporter this past Sunday at a fundraiser.
Robert Zur Schmiede, right, greets a supporter this past Sunday at a fundraiser.

About 100 people attended an $85 per person fundraiser for Robert Zur Schmiede this past Sunday, kicking off his campaign for Laguna Beach’s City Council.

The candidate, the current appointed chair of the city’s Planning Commission, outlined his top priorities, which included protecting Laguna Beach’s open spaces and beaches and invigorating its economy.

Zur Schmiede and Michele Hall, a yoga teacher and former political consultant, are the first two candidates to formally declare their intention to seek election in November by establishing campaign committees. The four-year terms of three City Council incumbents, Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, Toni Iseman and Kelly Boyd, are expiring. Only Boyd so far has vowed to seek re-election.

He and Iseman as well as council member Steve Dicterow were among those who attended the Aliso Creek Inn reception under a billowing white tent set up for a fundraiser the previous night. The audience seemed to draw people from across the political spectrum: village preservation leaders Arnold Hano and Verna Rollinger as well as business leaders Sam Goldstein and Mark Orgill.

“Bob’s fulfilled one of his goals already; he promised a big tent,” the campaign’s treasurer, Matt Lawson, only half joked.

That comment was echoed in remarks by the candidate and host Mark Christy, who introduced Zur Schmiede as a decision maker who views issues based on merit.

In his own prepared remarks, Zur Schmiede said, “I will respect all voices and views when making decisions as your elected representative” and promised to promote non-partisanship among fellow council members.

Laguna-based clubs that represent the nation’s largest political parties did enter the fray during the previous 2012 election, endorsing candidates in the non-partisan city council race.

Zur Schmiede pledged to broaden civic engagement by using unspecified non-traditional methods to include residents that cannot attend traditional hearings. The candidate called for stepped up civilian preparedness and resources for first responders in order to protect the town’s built environment from future disasters.

Larry Bammer, president of the Laguna Beach Police Employees Association, was among those in attendance.

Zur Schmiede pledged to improve the town’s downtown and pursue citywide economic development by regularly reassessing city regulation as well as recruiting merchants that diversify the mix of retailers and restaurants. The recent move to hire an urban planner, he said, “is a major step in the right direction.”

County Candidate Endorsed by TCA

Board members of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which developed the county’s toll roads, announced their support this week for its leader, Lisa Bartlett, as she campaigns to represent Orange County’s Fifth Supervisorial District in the June 3 primary.

Bartlett, who also serves as mayor of Dana Point, will face off against at least two opponents. The fifth district includes Laguna Beach and 11 south county cities including Irvine.

Pat Bates, who has served on the board since 2006, is making a run for a state Senate seat.

“Transportation mobility is a vital necessity to Orange County; it is what separates us from our neighboring counties,” said board member Jim Evert in a statement. “We must continue to improve our transportation infrastructure and Lisa is a dedicated advocate in that mission.”

“With the approval of 14,000 additional homes in Rancho Mission Viejo and 10,000 at the Great Park, it is important we have leaders who will fight to maintain our quality of life in South Orange County. I am happy to support Lisa and am confident she will be an exceptional leader,” fellow board member Melody Carruth added.

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