Boyd, Madison Skip Firebrand Forum
Incumbent Kelly Boyd and candidate Jon Madison skipped the final public forum Wednesday, Oct. 29, for candidates seeking election to the Laguna Beach City Council.
Madison, who also failed to make a scheduled appearance on a KX 93.5 radio show this past Sunday, could not attend due to “unforeseen business matters,” he said in an email on Wednesday. Boyd provided no specific explanation, but said earlier he felt the forum unnecessary because most of the electorate has already made up their minds or has already cast absentee ballots.
Though his academic and professional claims were discredited in September, Madison, the owner of Madison Square Garden & Café, has
remained in the race, having collected the second-largest campaign kitty among the seven candidates.
The five candidates participating in the campaign’s seventh forum since August fielded a dozen questions. They were the priorities expressed by five neighborhood groups that submitted questions to the editor of the Indy.
In a last pitch to voters before an audience of about 60 people, candidate Paul Merritt reiterated his campaign mantra that Laguna Beach is a masterpiece that Council members have a duty to preserve and promised to be an “action candidate.”
Rob Zur Schmiede summed up his credentials, citing 20 years as a resident, a 36-year career in urban planning and economic development and 13 years on the city’s Planning Commission, among other community contributions. He said candidate selection should be based on four criteria, all of which he meets: qualifications, experience, commitment and integrity.
Eli Grossman derided what he views as corruption among current city officials and spoke to his ability to know “when it is proper to question authority.” He said that with “most citizens ignorant,” media that doesn’t inform them about what’s going on, and leaders who cater to the affluent, he can provide the character that is lacking and lead Laguna Beach.
Michele Oliver Hall agreed that the character of the candidates is of equal importance in the election as issues. While she conceded to less experience than some rivals, “I will be the hardest worker,” pledged Hall, 47, the youngest candidate. She might not always know the answer, but she will find it, she said, promising new leadership, energy and ideas.
Four-term incumbent Toni Iseman wanted to dispel what she described as a myth that newcomers to town want a different Laguna Beach. “When you come here, you come here for a reason,” she said, noting that residents and businesses support each other. She appealed to voters to recognize the value of her experience and breadth of contacts with county, state and federal officials. “I want four more years to complete what I’ve started,” she concluded.
Zur Schmiede Still Leads in Fundraising
Among groups exerting their influence in the Laguna Beach City Council election, Village Laguna appears to be the biggest spender on behalf of incumbent Toni Iseman and challenger Robert Zur Schmiede, listing a campaign kitty of $32,000 and expenses of $21,716 on the campaign so far, according to the latest disclosure reports.
The O.C. Professional Firefighters Assoc. declared a kitty of $11,000 and is also supporting Zur Schmiede; the Laguna Beach Police Employee Association disclosed $2,375 in expenditures and backing for Iseman and Zur Schmiede.
A late filing by the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association disclosed $5,350 in campaign contributions coming almost entirely in a $5,000 contribution by a retired local resident, Carroll Dawson. Taxpayers endorsed incumbent Kelly Boyd and challenger Michele Hall.
The cumulative campaign war chests of candidates and organizations tally $315,017 so far, making the 2014 City Council race the most expensive since 2000 when a record $411,452 was spent. A final expenditure report covering the two weeks prior to the election is due in January.
Among individual campaigns, Zur Schmiede still leads in individual fundraising, having collected $57,000 in contributions to Jon Madison’s $55,000 as of Oct. 18, according to campaign disclosure statements filed with the city clerk last week. Madison’s total included a $1,000 personal loan.
Incumbents Iseman and Boyd placed third and fourth in terms of donations, while Hall and Paul Merritt placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Eli Grossman has not declared any contributions.
Both Hall and Merritt have made personal loans to their campaigns that account for a major portion of their war chests, the filings show.
Register Endorses Hall, Boyd
The Orange County Register endorsed the candidacies of Michele Hall and Kelly Boyd for Laguna Beach’s City Council in an editorial published Monday, Oct. 27.
The paper described Boyd as a “consistent voice against onerous city regulations.” The editorial board was impressed with Hall’s “Mandate for Renewal,” an outline for transparency, accountability and efficiency in local government. It included an aim to “sunset” obsolete acts and statutes.
Top of the World Endorses Iseman, Zur Schmiede
The board of the Top of the World Neighborhood Association announced its endorsement of the candidacies of Toni Iseman and Rob Zur Schmiede for Laguna Beach City Council for the upcoming Nov. 4 election.
— Andrea Adelson and Jennifer Erickson
Correction appended Nov. 7.
A cumulative figure about election spending published in the Political Briefs in the Oct. 31 edition was incorrect. The corrected figure for the period ending Oct. 18 is $272,097 in spending by candidates and independent committees, which still makes this year’s campaign the most expensive since 2000.