With several endorsements from prominent Republicans in hand, Ventura Councilwoman Rosa Lee Measures has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Dorill Wright as the area's representative on the state Coastal Commission.
Although the deadline for nominations is three weeks away, Measures said she has already forwarded to Gov. Pete Wilson letters of support from Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) and former Rep. Robert J. Lagomarsino, as well as endorsements from county Supervisors John Flynn and Maggie Kildee.
There are four known candidates vying for the seat that former Port Hueneme Councilman Wright has held on the 12-member Coastal Commission for the past 16 years. The South Central Coast Regional commissioner, a two-year appointment, represents the coastal counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
Along with Measures, the two other candidates from Ventura County are Moorpark Mayor Paul Lawrason, who was one of three people nominated to the post in 1991, and Port Hueneme Mayor Toni Young, a past rival of Wright's on the Port Hueneme council. Supervisor Flynn said he also wrote a letter of support for Young.
Despite already obtaining some key endorsements, Measures might have a tough time persuading the governor to appoint another Ventura County resident to the position, officials said. The only non-Ventura County resident representing the region on the commission was former San Luis Obispo Supervisor Steve MacElvaine, who served on the commission as an at-large representative from 1983 to 1992.
Because of the lack of representation from Santa Barbara over the years, and because there are several major developments planned for the coast of Santa Barbara County that the commission will review this year, the governor may look for a commissioner from the county, said Santa Barbara County Supervisor Tim Staffel. Staffel has already been recommended to the governor by that county's Board of Supervisors.
"Santa Barbara County has not had someone on the commission for some time," Staffel said. "Mr. Wright served for 16 years, and I think Mr. MacElvaine was on the commission . . . (but) Santa Barbara County is long overdue for representation on the commission."
The governor will consider nominees from the Board of Supervisors of each of the three counties, as well as from a mayors' selection committee in each county.
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors are expected to discuss nominations today , and the Mayor's Selection Committee in Ventura County is schedule to meet Jan. 25 in Camarillo to decide on their recommendations.
Ventura Mayor Tom Buford and Santa Paula Mayor Al Urias have already endorsed Measures, she said, and Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez is considering endorsing her. Lawrason, who is the chairman of the selection committee, said he has not yet lined up any endorsements from his fellow mayors.
The names of all three of the Ventura County contenders could be forwarded from either the selection committee or the Board of Supervisors, or both, Wright said.
"I have no idea what the governor's appointment secretaries will do when they look over those names," he said.
Wright declined to judge the strengths or weaknesses of any of the candidates. But he said he has informed Lawrason and Measures about the time commitment involved as a coastal commissioner. He said it took him as long as 40 hours to read materials and otherwise prepare himself for the four-day meetings held monthly.
Along with plans for development along the Santa Barbara coastline, Wright said, the commission will also be considering development near the Bolsa Chica wetlands outside Huntington Beach. Permits for several drilling operations of the central coast will also be considered, he said.
"Whoever the governor picks, the next commissioner needs to be a person with a broader than local perspective when it comes to solving environmental, social and economic problems facing the state," Wright said.