Letter: Respect of Colleagues

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What do these three people have in common?

– Edward Lorr (1970-1974)
– Bill Wilcoxen (1981-1982)
– Peter Blake (2018-2022)

Answer: These are the only Laguna Beach councilmembers during the past 52 years who never served as either Mayor or Mayor Pro Tempore during their 1st terms.

Being voted as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tempore is sometimes viewed as a procedural or collegial matter. But being nominated to either role is also an acknowledgment by one’s colleagues of respect and leadership capabilities. It’s therefore notable that so few councilmembers of the dozens that have served, have failed to be elevated to either position during the past half century plus.

During their first terms: Kelly Boyd, Ann Christoph, Steve Dicterow, Toni Iseman, Verna Rollinger, Bob Whalen, Rob Zur Schmiede, and Sue Kempf had all either been honored with the Mayorship or Pro Tempore position. Indeed during Iseman’s 24 years on council, she has spent a third of the time as either Mayor or Pro Tem. Whalen’s record is even more impressive, in that he’s spent 60% of his time in one or the other role (with two years to go!).

We can’t be completely certain what prevented the three oddballs from obtaining either position. Wilcoxen was appointed to fill a vacant seat and only served nine months on council. Edward Lorr’s term was slightly less than four years because he was recalled in a special election shortly before the end of his term (the recall petition accused him of misconduct). But in the case of Blake it’s a good bet that his colleagues never felt he could live up to either position. That’s even more startling given that during his first two years on Council there was a four-one split with Blake being in the majority. Did his colleagues see then, what many Laguna voters see now?

Michael Morris, Laguna Beach

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Mike Morris. Interesting historical facts about our city leaders.

    I particularly agree with this statement, “But in the case of Blake it’s a good bet that his colleagues never felt he could live up to either position.”

    If true, it speaks volumes. I thank and commend all of the council members Blake has served with who recognized this. And give his two co-council member supporters credit for never proposing him for either position as well. I believe it would cause a public civic upheaval like we’ve not seen before.

    Interesting political times. We are seeing nearby cities enacting stronger civility and ethics policies and adopting protective Initiatives that suggest public officials aren’t representing constituents appropriately nor fulfilling their commitments once elected. In addition, there’s substantial movement to term limits for City Council and Boards and Commissions members, district voting and elected Mayors and City Attorneys that once never considered them. Wonder where Laguna is headed?

  2. “Honor” is the operative word here, because to bestow either title indicates respect of the highest order. Agreeing to serve is hard work, as our longest-serving public official– Councilwoman Iseman–well knows. Whether you agree with her or not, she has managed the job gracefully for years, often pointing out crucial details others miss entirely or never knew. In contrast, bypassing a colleague like this indicates a distinct lack of confidence–whether in ability or temperament–and sends an unmistakeable message. The lack of respect for residents and certain council members is, unfortunately, well-documented. Those who care about community might take stock of the last four years and vote their values at the ballot box. We can do better.

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