After grappling with the desire to spend more time with his family,
City Councilman John Heffernan decided Friday to run for reelection.
His decision was not without angst.
Friday morning he was set on not running but was persuaded to do
so by staff members, who made an emotionally compelling case for his
staying on the dais, he said.
"I think [my family] has kind of reconciled with it," Heffernan
said. "The staff kind of did its best to keep me in the ring."
Friday was the deadline to file nomination papers for races and
districts where incumbents are running for reelection. Heffernan's
decision means that his only competition will be Dolores Otting, who
qualified for the ballot Friday.
Otting has not returned repeated calls for comment.
Heffernan has wavered in his commitment to the council before.
After being voted into office in 2000 as a candidate backed by the
Greenlight slow-growth movement, he shocked colleagues on the dais in
2002 with an announcement that he would vacate his seat halfway
through his term for reasons that included spending more time with
his family. He ultimately decided to complete his term.
Councilman Steve Bromberg, who is also running for reelection but
doesn't face any competition, said he was glad Heffernan changed his
"I'm glad he's decided to stay part of this team," Bromberg said.
Mayor Tod Ridgeway questioned Heffernan's dedication.
"Does this mean he's going to run and quit? ... I just hope he's
committed to the position and to the city council," Ridgeway said.
Greenlight spokesman Phil Arst lauded Heffernan's analytical
skills and independent streak on council issues.
"I think he's been a good City Council member and raised
significant questions, and you can always count on him to ferret out
data as matters come before the council," Arst said.
In West Newport, incumbent Steven Rosansky faces competition from
Catherine Emmons and John Buttolph, both of whom have qualified for
In Costa Mesa, where council members are elected at large, the
deadline to file petitions has been extended for nonincumbents, since
City Councilwoman Libby Cowan will not be seeking a third term. After
12 years, serving the city as both a Planning Commissioner and City
Council member, she has accomplished what she set out to, she said.
"We built a brand new downtown recreation/community center," Cowan
said. "We have wonderful youth action with an advisory committee of
teens. While no longer a council committee, it is in existence and
working with staff to address issues about teens. We have a
parkways/landscaping program -- Newport Boulevard and Geisler and
Baker Street parkways that are now beautified. I've given a lot."
In Costa Mesa, as of Friday morning, eight candidates had
qualified for the ballot: Councilman Mike Scheafer; former Mayor
Linda Dixon; Planning Commission Chairman Bruce Garlich; Parks and
Recreation Commissioner Mirna Burciaga; Sam Clark; Richard Carroll;
and Karl Ahlf and Michael Clifford, who vied to be appointed to
former Mayor Karen Robinson's seat
Those who have filed petitions but who hadn't qualified at press
time are incumbent Chris Steel and Planning Commissioner members
Katrina Foley and Eric Bever. They are expected to get on the ballot
Steel said he is running again to resolve issues he doesn't feel
have gotten due attention. Some of these issues are the high rate of
crime, overcrowded schools and "certain policies that I think have
gotten us in trouble," Steel said. "I want to [see] change. We need
some decisive, firm leadership in a proper direction, and I don't
think we're going that route."
* DEIRDRE NEWMAN covers government. She may be reached at (949)
574-4221 or by e-mail at email@example.com.