Heffernan to make another run for the dais

Deirdre Newman

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

mind.

"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

the ballot.

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

without trouble.

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 deirdre.newman@latimes.com.

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