Council, school board incumbents qualify for ballot

The Laguna Beach Board of Education race is over almost before it began.

With only the three incumbents in the race for the three seats on the board, incumbents Betsy Jenkins, Theresa O'Hare and Ketta Brown are deemed elected and their names will not even appear on the ballot, the registrar's office said.

The three incumbents running for reelection to the City Council have one challenger: Emanuel Patrascu.

Patrascu has positioned himself the anti-establishment candidate.

"I am excited to be the only candidate fighting against the status quo and challenging the three incumbents," he e-mailed the Coastline Pilot.

The incumbents think their experience in guiding the city through good times and bad in recent years is an asset, as indicated by their statements of qualifications.

With their track records open to public scrutiny, the incumbents point to accomplishments during their terms in office.

"Due to careful budgeting and long-term planning, we [Laguna Beach] are in a strong economic position," Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman stated. "Laguna Beach has weathered this nationwide financial crisis because of good decisions made by this council."

Iseman takes great pride in the free trolley service that benefits the residents and visitors to Laguna Beach and the environment by reducing vehicle traffic in the core of the city.

She stated that continuity on the council is vital in the face of the uncertain economy, a new city manager to succeed retiring Ken Frank, water shortages, state mandates and budget limitations.

Councilman Kelly Boyd, who helped establish a task force that dealt with homeless issues and restored the use of beaches and parks to the community, is a fourth-generation Lagunan and downtown business owner.

"I am easily accessible at my place of business and committed to serving all Laguna Beach residents," Boyd stated.

His goals are revitalizing the business community, establishing artist-live work projects, assuring resources for the fire, police and marine safety departments, and creating a tree ordinance that preserves views.

Mayor Elizabeth Pearson cited as major accomplishments the construction of the Susi Q and Community Center on Third Street and the restoration of Bluebird Canyon after a devastating landslide, financed in part by voter-imposed temporary half-cent sales tax that was retired two years before the sunset date.

"Still, we face challenges," Pearson stated. "Helping our businesses, managing parking, accommodating our visitors, maintaining first-rte public safety and city services in an era of diminishing resources, are clear issues before us."

Pearson and Iseman have spent about two years working with the business community to help bring new businesses to town and urged council approval of a $50,000 city grant for Chamber of Commerce to hire a development consultant.

Boyd parts company with the rest of the council on the proposed temporary ban on fishing all along the Laguna coastline, but signed nomination papers of the other two incumbents, who reciprocated.

Patrascu sees that as a negative.

"Why would all three support each other?" he questioned in his e-mail to the Coastline. "It is because there are very small differences between the three incumbents. On the most controversial issues, such as the homeless shelter and raising your property taxes, they vote the same."

Property taxes are based on county assessor's valuation of the property and the rates are set by Proposition 13. The council cannot raise taxes without a vote of the people.

Patrascu said he was referring to increases in the sewer fees approved by the council, which appear on the tax bills and which he has heard council members refer to as "taxes."

Patrascu also said in his statement of qualifications that the property taxes were raised 11% this year in Laguna. He said on Thursday the 11% was the cumulative increase over the past three years.

An 11% increase would have city officials celebrating. Property taxes are the primary source of revenue for Laguna Beach, followed by the bed tax.

This year's increase was 1.8%, City Manager Ken Frank said.

"The incumbents have all served multiple terms on the council," Patrascu posted on his election website. "And what is their record? Under their watch empty store fronts added up, deficits ballooned, taxes increased, and we are all feeling less safe."

In response to Patrascu criticism, the incumbents point to improved infrastructure, preservation of the city's identity as an arts community and of open space, efforts to stop ocean pollution, and a balanced budget that includes a reserve fund for disasters and another one to help the city through the economic downturn.

"I am proud to have the endorsements of community leaders such as Congressman John Campbell, [state] Senator Tom Harman and former Laguna Beach Mayor Steve Dicterow," Patrascu stated.



Patrascu was one of three non-incumbents who pulled nomination papers, but the only one to file them with City Clerk Martha Anderson by the 5 p.m. Aug. 6 deadline.

Richard Picheny, who said he was on the fence until Aug. 6, decided against running.

"Basically, I felt in terms of organization and fundraising, I had started too late to run the campaign I wanted to run," he said.

Former Mayor Ann Christoph also considered running.

"After Richard dropped out, I looked at the field of candidates and I was concerned about some of Emanuel's statements that were the opposite of what I would like to see," Christoph said.

Christoph would have preferred a more positive approach.

"I wanted to present a more positive image of what we could achieve." Christoph said. "There are things we can do rather than just complaining about them."

She had hopes of running a civil, low-budget campaign, but was told she would be a sitting duck and be attacked.

"My message would not have gotten across, so I decided not to run," Christoph said.

A representative for Al Salehi, who had pulled nomination papers, arrived at the city clerk's office one or two minutes before 5 p.m. deadline to file, but he did not have the required financial statement, which made Salehi ineligible as a candidate.

Anderson accepted the available documents and forwarded them to the office of the county Registrar of Voters.

Even if Salehi had all his paperwork in, he would have been ineligible because earlier in the day he registered to vote in Buena Park where he is on the ballot for the Library District, according to the county registrar of voters' records.

Salehi also pulled nominating papers to run for the Board of Education, but did not file the necessary paperwork.



Boyd valued the Marine Room Tavern between $100,001 and $1,000,000. He declared a gross income of more than $100,000.

Pearson listed consulting fees of between $10,001 and $100,000 from Mission Hospital Laguna Beach and T. D. Service Financial.

Iseman's assets include properties in Laguna valued at more than $1 million each, one of which provides rental income between $10,001 and $100,000; a third Laguna property valued between $10,001 and $100,000 and property in Arizona valued at between $100,001 and $1 million with a rental income between $10,001 and $100,000.

All City Council candidates receive a stipend, which is public information.

Patrascu lists his occupation as a small-business owner. His company is called eMotive Marketing Inc. with a fair market value between $10,001 and $100,000. He also works for State Sen. Tom Harman, for which he is paid between $10,001 and $100,000.



The candidates are required to file periodic reports on the funds they have raised, from whom or what it has been raised and how it has been spent. The reports are public documents.

Boyd's campaign committee raised $24,680 between Jan. 1 and June 30 and has spent $1,998.

Pearson raised $46,294 in the first six months of the year and spent $30,376.52.

Iseman reported no campaign funds raised as of June 30.

Patrascu has spent $750.75 of the $4,420 he raised between Jan. 1 and June 30.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World