Opinion: Village Matters


The Remains of Catholic School

ann christoph

The proposed city purchase of St. Catherine of Siena Parish School brought back my own memories of eight grade school years studying at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Wisconsin. Sisters Mercedes, Ignatius, Carissima, Josephine, Citina, and Dorissa instilled those Catholic teachings. While as an adult I rejected some scruple-making dictates of Catholic doctrine, I realize more and more how other ingrained values have never left me. I can still hear those nuns saying way back in my brain somewhere, “God has given you your own unique abilities and talents. Your job in life is to use those talents for good, improve society, and inspire others.”

With that perspective I thought about the upcoming city council election and wondered why so many qualified leaders in our town don’t step up to serve. Our town has a bevy of talent and we’re not lacking concern for our town’s future, but when asked to serve on boards, commissions, or council, the response is not eagerness for the opportunity. Over and over the idea is rejected by very worthy people. It’s not that they don’t want to be of service, but now I see part of their reluctance is wanting to remain dignified, and not put themselves out there as targets of personal attacks.

This year attacks started even before the election. Shots across the bow. Warning possible candidates not to run, especially if they had any Village Laguna or “activist” sympathies.
It’s reminiscent of other movements to persecute certain groups, “Are you now or have you ever been…”

It’s only days after the final list of candidates for our city council has been verified and attacks are showing up on emails. Crazy, thoughtless, embarrassing attacks. Read the campaign statements from the seven candidates to see their own thoughts on the City Clerk’s page at lagunabeachcity.net.

There is one candidate who apparently relishes being a target–candidate Peter Blake, who states, “I’ve been accused of being uncivil, strong-willed, ill-tempered (all true) and every unflattering label that can be applied to my personality. I’ve been censured (earned) and I’ve engaged in blustery discourse with activists who’ve lied and spun the issues and have stood my ground. I remain unscathed and ready to move us forward regardless of what a vocal minority of control and power­-hungry activists want.” He loves it, and is unmoved by criticism, even acknowledging it’s deserved. So my thoughts about attacks don’t apply to him.

I have met all of the other six candidates and they all convey sincere thoughtfulness appropriate for a council candidate. In some cases their ambition may exceed their qualifications or their philosophy may not correspond to yours but this is the job of voters to distill during the course of the campaign. None of them deserve to be attacked. They all deserve to be listened to with consideration. If we want our city to be led by the best we must be sure that candidates are treated with respect.

Who are the candidates that will be most devoted to Laguna and the welfare of all of its people? Who questions why it seems so necessary to fight over how much money can be made from our picturesque little town? Life is so short, what could be left behind is a respected reputation and an even more beautiful and compatible town for the future. A tally of how many attacks made or battles won against adversaries may give one sardonic satisfaction, but won’t be appreciated by history going forward.

The Catholic school closure, along with similar closures nationwide, portends our society’s move toward a more secular orientation. Yet let’s hope the sisters’ altruistic lesson survives, with all of us together using our considerable talents without fear and for the good of a town worth all of our best efforts.

Ann is a landscape architect and former Laguna Beach mayor. She’s also a long-time board member of Village Laguna, Inc.

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