What’s In A Name?



This city council election season has been interesting. Not only do we have seven candidates for three seats, but you need a scorecard to keep track of some of the candidates’ names.

First, there’s John … or Jon Madison, or John Jay or Jon Jay or John J., etc. While his local business and philanthropic ventures are admirable, his background remains a tad fuzzy, which is puzzling.

It’s easy to empathize with identity theft, but it typically can be resolved without changing one’s name. And a person of his stated educational background should know how to negotiate a college bureaucracy to quickly produce the proper documents. If he can’t negotiate his way through that maze, how will he find his way through complex local issues?

Then there’s Michele Hall–or Michele Oliver Hall. The ‘Oliver’ was added to her campaign kind of mid-stream, ostensibly so her former classmates might easily identify her. Shortly after, I had an email from the LBHS alumni association containing her campaign literature. Did the alumni association extend an offer to other candidates who also are graduates or those whose children are graduates? I am also an LBHS graduate, but I didn’t get a reply to a request asking about requirements for using the email list. Hall also emphasizes her generation at council forums. Yet she aligns herself with Kelly Boyd, who is considerably older and a three-time incumbent, while Hall touts term limits.

Finally, there’s Paul Merritt–or Paul Merritt Christiansen–or Paul M. Christiansen. Many people use middle names and initials. But it’s unusual for candidates to use different last names in different political campaigns, especially for men. But when Merritt was on the Laguna Niguel City Council in the late 1980s/early 1990s, he used Christiansen as his last name. So I’m puzzled why he would now run under Merritt.

Eli Grossman is a one-issue candidate, but at least we know his name.

I’m inclined to support candidates who have not sounded alarm bells like these in my mind. For me, that definitely means Toni Iseman, who most closely reflects my vision for Laguna Beach. But it also leaves Kelly Boyd and Rob Zur Schmiede as viable choices. We are entitled to vote for up to three candidates for city council. I hope you will consider these issues when you cast your vote.

Craig Dusenberry, Laguna Beach

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