EDITORIAL: Changes come to Laguna

The pendulum swung strongly in America on Tuesday, and Laguna Beach was no exception. It was a historic political season with the election of the first African-American president and Laguna Beach shared in the general elation felt by most, even those who did not vote for Barack Obama.

It was also an election season with an unusual amount of bickering and downright nastiness from all sides. Candidates and their supporters seemed to be hot-tempered and uncivil; we saw and heard complaints about name-calling and anonymous accusations that didn't do anyone any good. Political signs were not only stolen, but vandalized, and even burned.

You can chalk it up to nervousness over the economy and to the personal nature of politics in a small town, and to the presence of a very divisive measure on the ballot, Proposition 8, which succeeded in putting an anti-same sex marriage proscription into the state constitution. This one issue probably resulted in more high emotion in Laguna than any other, and is not going away soon "” three lawsuits were filed the day after the election seeking to nullify it.

In a race for political muscle on the Laguna Beach City Council, Village Laguna-backed candidate Verna Rollinger, a Democrat, overtook Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Kinsman, a Republican, in Rollinger's second bid for a council seat. The outcome will be a three-member majority for Village Laguna on the council, something that has not been seen in nearly 15 years for this one-time powerhouse group.

Rollinger joins fellow Village Lagunans Mayor Jane Egly and Councilwoman Toni Iseman to create a solid majority that can be expected to vote in concert on many issues.

Whether that will translate into a radical shift in policy remains to be seen, but several issues are paramount for the group, which tends to side with residents over commercial interests:

?Putting a damper on late-night businesses, such as bars and restaurants, which some would like to see close up shop as early as 10 p.m.;

?Aliso Creek property residential development, to which Village Laguna has taken a strong stance in opposition; and

?Preferential parking, which was turned down flat by the now-ousted council majority but is sure to make a comeback with the new majority in charge.

We congratulate the winners, console the losers, and look forward to getting past this jittery election period and on to civil discourse on issues that the public cares about most.

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