Sore Winners and Sour Grapes



What does it mean when the winner of an election is bitter and resentful, while a candidate who lost is grateful and optimistic? How come spirits were higher at election night gatherings where candidates who lost felt good about the campaign, and toasted with candidates who had won election?

Instead of being flush with victory (“Voters Choose Familiar Names” Indy, Nov. 6) a tense Toni Iseman griped that “competent responsible people” will not run for office because of “unprecedented nastiness” in the 2014 campaign.

What was “unprecedented” was the insidiously negative Iseman campaign theme insisting that only her re-election would “save Laguna Beach” from opponents bent on “paving paradise” and destroying our town. A lot of people who have done a lot more to save Laguna than Iseman respectfully but openly opposed her re-election.

Iseman should know better than to suggest it’s “negative campaigning” to oppose her re-election based on the public record of her public acts. As it turned out voters responded to arguably the weirdest election in our town’s history by voting for the status quo down at City Hall. But facing and overcoming opposition gives meaning our elections will not have if we allow elections to become beauty contests for incumbents.

The suggestion that a robust debate discourages “competent responsible people” from participating is anti-democratic. It would be incompetent and irresponsible for people with a sense of civic duty to allow Iseman to enjoy the advantages of incumbency without the burden of accountability.

Iseman was criticized fairly for singling out a property owner for extraordinarily strict compliance, triggering the protest appeal opposing city approval of a new resort development at Aliso Creek.  Then Iseman made a mockery of her strict compliance standard by not demanding immediate enforcement action when her most prominent campaign supporter paved 9,000 square feet of paradise at Aliso Creek without a city permit.

Similarly, Iseman’s 2002 vote against a federally subsidized flood control project was a legitimate issue given pollution and loss of sea life in a 2010 flood that will be repeated until mitigated by measures she voted to kill.

Still, the Indy reported an irate Iseman “singled out Howard Hills” for “negative campaigning.”  I also was singled out in 1969 when I criticized City Council for not more actively supporting our fundraising to jumpstart the Greenbelt. So I’ll take being singled out again as a sure sign that open debate without fear of retaliation also is one way we save the spirit that makes Laguna home.

Howard Hills, Laguna Beach


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