DeLong quits council race

Gregg DeLong, a who successfully filed a claim against the city this year over owed revenues, has decided not to run for City Council.

DeLong, who runs a marketing company and worked in the mortgage industry for two decades, said he withdrew his candidacy because other responsibilities demanded his attention.

"I've enjoyed being on the campaign trail and having the opportunity to meet and get to know many wonderful residents in our city," DeLong said. "Based on my conversations with many Huntington Beach citizens, clearly there is a need for improved financial management and transparency in our city's government.

"However, at this point, I don't believe I can devote the appropriate amount of time to a City Council position that the residents deserve. My growing business and school-age daughter require my full attention.

"I look forward to a City Council campaign in 2012, and at that time, will continue my pursuit of improving government in our city. Huntington Beach residents deserve it."

DeLong's announcement Friday came hours before the final deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork to run for office. He filed his statement of intention in November. A potential first-time candidate, he said at the time that he sought a council seat because he wanted to get more involved in the community.

His candidacy, though, quickly turned tumultuous. DeLong became embroiled in a dispute regarding the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, at which he and his wife were members. He filed a claim against the city and center in January alleging that the center had not paid the city-owed revenues from trainers who worked on the property. In March, the city ruled in DeLong's favor and ordered the center to begin making payments.

In the meantime, DeLong and his wife were evicted from the center. An attorney for the center said DeLong had repeatedly violated center rules and refused to obey eviction notices. The dispute between DeLong and the center's management boiled over Dec. 29, when police were called to quell an argument between the two parties, according to records.

Records also showed that DeLong had spent two months in federal prison in 2001 after being convicted in an extortion scandal. DeLong was found guilty of extorting kickbacks from a Pittsburgh real estate company while working as a manager at the Costa Mesa mortgage lender Ditech.

DeLong said the disclosure of his prison record had no bearing on his decision to drop out of the race and that he looked forward to his future campaign.

"A first step in changing the direction of our city will be in this coming election," DeLong said. "The second step will be in 2012."

DeLong declined to say whether he was endorsing any candidates for this year's race.

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