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Fund-raisers kick off campaign season

Barbara Diamond

Send money and get out the vote.

That was the message candidates Toni Iseman and Elizabeth Pearson

gave supporters at separate fund-raisers that kicked off the 2002


City Council race.

“I have signed a pledge not to spend more than $30,000; other

candidates have not signed the pledge, so I am going to need every

penny of the $30,000,” incumbent candidate Toni Iseman told


supporters at a fund-raiser sponsored by the Democratic Club.

It was the first fund-raiser of the election, held recently at

Madison Square and Garden Cafe. A minimum $25 donation was requested.

“Take an envelope and try to get another donation,” Elizabeth

Pearson told her supporters at a $100-per-person fund-raiser, held

Sunday at the Rock House at Aliso Beach.

Both candidates said it was vital to get voters to the polls, not

an easy task, political types fear, in an election with no national


offices being contended locally, no municipal crisis and hardly more

candidates for the council than open seats.

“Four people are running for three seats,” Pearson said. “Two are

incumbents. Another woman and I are running for the third seat.”

The incumbents are Iseman and Steven Dicterow. The other woman is

Melissa O’Neal, who attended Iseman’s fund-raiser, welcomed and

praised by the incumbent, as was Board of Education candidate Betsy



“You are a problem for us,” Democratic Club President David Schaar

told O’Neal. “We have never endorsed a Republican.”

Iseman’s endorsement by the Democratic Club is a foregone

conclusion, according to Schaar.

“She is the only Democrat running for council.” Schaar said.

The Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. will endorse Pearson, according

to association member Frank Ricchiazzi. The association endorsed her

candidacy in the 2000 election, won by Wayne Baglin and Cheryl


“Elizabeth is intelligent and sensible, not just automatically

against anything new,” said fund-raiser host Dennis Morin.

Outgoing Councilman Paul Freeman, who supports both Iseman and

Pearson spoke on Iseman’s behalf at the Democratic Club fund-raiser,

with some kibitzing from his four-year-old daughter, Zoe.

“Zoe and I wanted to come to give our endorsement and support to

Toni,” Freeman said. “We are here because Toni is a friend and a good


“Toni does her homework and knows how to reach out to others. She

deserves to be re-elected.”

Pearson said that she is gratified that supporters from her first

campaign are backing her again.

“I plan to run my campaign based on experience,” Pearson said.

She served 6 1/2 years on the city’s Planning Commission, 16 years

on the North Laguna Community Assn. Board of Director and has raised

funds for the proposed Senior Center on Third Street and the Boys and

Girls Club of Laguna Beach.

Both candidates consider a reduction in traffic, an increase in

parking and public safety as priorities.

Pearson said she would bring in policy makers from South County to

resolve regional issues.

She lists Supervisor Tom Wilson, Lake Forest Mayor Richard Dixon

and Rancho Santa Margarita Mayor Jim Thor as supporters. Federal

Judge candidate John Adams introduced her at the fund-raiser. He said

she had been instrumental in the success of his write-in candidacy in

the primary.

Pearson’s campaign brochure also sets as goals the replacement of

“decayed sewers and a design review process that respects those

seeking approvals.”

Iseman is a supporter of neighborhood compatibility, a believer in

stronger enforcement of city codes and opposes making new laws

without providing the enforcement to back it up. She serves as

co-chair of the Wastewater Advisory Committee and as the city’s

representative on the South Orange County Wastewater Authority.

She was the initiator of the free tram service this summer that

increased ridership by 90% and filled the ACT V lot with vehicles

that never got into town, a boost to the idea of peripheral parking.

If re-elected, Iseman is in line to serve next year as mayor.

Iseman is a counselor at Orange Coast College. Pearson owns her

own advertising agency.