Buffa Drops Campaign for AQMD Board

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Costa Mesa City Councilman Peter F. Buffa has dropped his campaign to win a seat on Southern California's air quality board after failing to win enough endorsements from Orange County mayors.

For several months, Buffa tried to unseat Yorba Linda Councilman Henry W. Wedaa, who represents the cities of Orange County on the South Coast Air Quality Management District's board.

Buffa notified the Orange County League of Cities of his decision to withdraw in a letter received Thursday. Buffa said in his letter that he made his decision because it "became clear that I was not going to have the required support to secure the appointment. Expending even more of every city's time and attention would not be productive."

Buffa also said that his recent entry in a congressional race will preclude him from seeking the AQMD position. He is challenging Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) for the Republican nomination in the 45th Congressional District.

Buffa's withdrawal leaves only Wedaa as an announced candidate for the seat on the AQMD, the agency with a federal and state mandate to fight smog in the four-county Los Angeles basin.

Wedaa, who has served five years on the AQMD and is now chairman of the board, was unavailable for comment Friday.

The mayors of Orange County were deadlocked during three votes in January when they tried to choose between Wedaa, who is moderate on air-quality issues, and Buffa, who favors a more conservative approach.

Buffa won the votes of 16 cities, while Wedaa won 14. A two-thirds majority--the endorsement of 21 of Orange County's 31 cities--was needed to unseat Wedaa.

Some city officials were trying to oust Wedaa because they believed he was not being sensitive enough to the needs of business and local government, and because they view the agency as oppressive and unresponsive.

The mayors are scheduled to fill the air-quality post at a meeting on March 31.

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