Clint Eastwood was meeting with friends Wednesday and rehashing his landslide victory in this city’s mayoral election when an important telephone call interrupted the discussion.
The caller, a colleague who had moved from California to Washington six years ago, had just one question:
“What is an actor who once played with a monkey in a movie doing in politics?”
The caller, of course, was President Reagan, who as an actor in 1951 made “Bedtime for Bonzo,” with a chimpanzee as a co-star.
Fellow Republican Eastwood, who worked opposite Clyde, an orangutan, in “Every Which Way But Loose” (1978) and “Any Which Way You Can” (1980), said he assured the President that his own political ambitions end at the Carmel city limits.
“He used my line, ‘Make my day,’ so I borrowed his ‘Get government off my back’ line,” Eastwood said at an early afternoon post-election press briefing.
James Stewart, star of Eastwood’s favorite political film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” also telephoned congratulations, Eastwood said.
In his press conference, attended by reporters from around the world, Eastwood also analyzed his election victory and outlined his plans for the city.
He said his top priority is easing the city’s parking problems, and he repeated his pledge to cut back on his Hollywood schedule to accommodate the city’s once-a-month City Council meetings.
“I have (already) cut back a little bit on my schedule when compared to two years ago,” when he worked on four movies at the same time, he told reporters gathered in the flower-draped gazebo garden at the La Playa Hotel. “I will do whatever it takes to do the job (of mayor).”
He added, however, that he is not retiring. “I’ll do a movie occasionally,” said the 55-year-old star, who had forsaken his coat-and-tie campaign costume for his usual, casual attire--corduroy sports coat, open-necked knit shirt, beat-up slacks and running shoes.
He said he had not yet given much thought to the possibility that City Council meetings might be overrun during his two-year term with tourists eager for a peek at a citizen-superstar.
“We only hope that Carmel residents interested in local government will get precedence,” he said.
He turned aside a suggestion that identity cards be issued to local residents, adding with a mischievous grin that a more appropriate solution might be a club--"a 2x4 with a nail in it.”
‘Personalized (City) Service’
In a more serious vein, he offered little in the way of tangible plans for the village of 4,800 residents, preferring to stress his desire to “go back to the personalized (city) service we once had in this community” and to “try to cut down on petty bureaucracy.”
Other Carmel residents, meanwhile, spent Wednesday trying to assess what their vote had wrought.
They won’t have long to debate. The new mayor will assume his $200-a-month post in City Hall ceremonies Tuesday. (He has hinted that he will donate his salary to the Carmel Youth Center, his favorite local charity.)
Also to be sworn in at that time are two like-minded council memberss, Elinor Laiolo and Francis (Bob) Fischer, who will give Eastwood a majority on the five-member City Council.
In any case, Carmel business owners were nearly unanimous in their joy over Eastwood’s election.
“Happy days are here again,” said commercial real estate agent Donald Bowen in an interview.
“Fairness is going to prevail,” said developer Alan Williams, “and a positive attitude (at City Hall) will replace a negative, punitive attitude.”
Eastwood, who declared his candidacy after being hampered in efforts to build an office building next to his Hog’s Breath Inn restaurant, said a top priority of his will be to “restructure” the city’s “punitive ordinances.”
In the campaign, he lamented what he called the current City Council’s “kill-joy mentality” in banning Frisbees from city parks, denying a permit for a take-away ice-cream stand and restricting parking on beachfront Scenic Drive at sunset.
However, he was careful to emphasize that he hopes publicity over these laws will not sully the city’s image.
“It is still a great city to reside in,” he said during a post-election press conference Tuesday night. “We just got a big-city government in a small town.”
Clearly, he intends to change that.
Relieved Race Is Over
In the end, Eastwood seemed relieved that the intense, sometimes angry 10-week campaign finally was over.
“Campaigning is very difficult, I must say,” he said after recounting more than 55 informal social gatherings at which he remembered drinking “lots of very weak tea.”
“It (running for office) is much more difficult than making a movie.”
Elsewhere in the state, growth issues attracted the most attention in elections in two affluent San Francisco Bay Area communities, Moraga and Tiburon. An open space initiative attracted 53% of the voters to the polls in Moraga, an East Bay college community. The measure, which severely limits development on hillside areas, won by a margin just over 1%.
Across the bay in Marin County, voters in Tiburon approved a two-year ban on new construction by a margin of 55% to 45%. In Alameda County, Hayward voters also approved an open space initiative, but reelected pro-growth Mayor Alex Giuliani to a second term.
Voter resistance to unchecked growth also surfaced in the San Diego County community of Del Mar where an initiative was adopted requiring a citywide vote on all large downtown developments.