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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Erskine to Lobby for Pierside Village

Councilman John Erskine, who decided last week not to seek reelection this year, said in an interview that he plans to spend his political hiatus lobbying for issues he has championed during his council term.

Erskine, who plans to leave city politics for a few years to spend more time with his family, said that after leaving office in November he may help promote Pierside Village and an outdoor youth sports complex planned for Huntington Central Park, among other projects.

Erskine was elected to a four-year term in November, 1986. He served as the city’s mayor in 1988, after being appointed to the post by his council colleagues.

He has been a leading council advocate of Pierside Village, a controversial proposal to build a complex of restaurants on bluffs next to the Municipal Pier now paved for street-level parking. Opponents say the project would block ocean views, but Erskine and four other council proponents argue that it would attract more people to the beach and bring more revenue to the city.

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Erskine also has been a supporter of the youth sports complex--a mixture of lighted baseball, soccer and football fields--first proposed in June. He said he is considering joining Tom Duchene, lead spokesman for a coalition of youth groups proposing the complex, in helping to complete the project.

“When I met Duchene two months ago, I really liked him,” Erskine said. “And this is the kind of cause I can get behind.”

After spending a few years concentrating on his law practice, attending to family matters and playing golf, Erskine said he will consider running again for a council seat.

“My wife (Diane) and I talked about it, and we decided it would be best if I hung up my shoes for a couple years,” he said. “Maybe I’ll become a candidate again in two years or four years from now, if I rekindle my enthusiasm.”

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During the upcoming council campaign, in which Councilwoman Grace Winchell is seeking reelection and three open seats are being contested, Erskine said he plans to support Ed Mountford, the planning commissioner he appointed, along with former city administrator Paul Cook and Huntington Beach Union High School District board president Linda Moulton-Patterson.

He said he also may campaign against both competing city measures on the Nov. 6 ballot, including the one he and three council colleagues adopted to rival an initiative qualified by a park-and-beach preservation group.

The group’s initiative would require a citywide vote before the council could sell or lease any beach land or parkland, while the council-approved measure would restrict sales but would allow leasing of parks and beaches without voter approval.


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