Councilwoman Verna Rollinger is getting an early start on her reelection campaign.
She got the ball rolling with invitations to a fundraiser this month, seeking financial support for a second term on the council. Hers is the first announcement of council candidacy for the 2012 election.
"I was a Girl Scout — be prepared," Rollinger said. "I always started early — except the last election."
Rollinger squeaked by former Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Kinsman in the 2008 election by fewer than 200 votes.
"It is hard to lose, I know, and I hope [Cheryl] remembers all the positive things she has done for the city," Rollinger said at the time.
Rollinger has only a nodding acquaintance with losing. She was elected city clerk for seven consecutive terms, until her retirement in 2004.
The only election Rollinger ever lost was her first run for the council in 2006, despite running what some political activists considered a model campaign.
Rollinger came in fourth behind then-Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, Toni Iseman and Kelly Boyd and lost by fewer than 400 votes.
She ran again for the council two years later, at the behest of her supporters who didn't like the direction they saw the city headed, but it was a close call. Rollinger filed nomination papers and a candidate's statement less than two hours before the deadline.
Her election put a more liberal bent to the council for the first time since 1994. She committed herself then to stop the slow "mansionization" of Laguna, which she called a village; protect Aliso Canyon and the creek; provide for a greener and less parking-intensive Village Entrance project; and to expand protection of the city's wilderness and open space areas.
In her fundraiser invitation, Rollinger listed accomplishments in her first term in office that fulfilled her pre-election promises, including voting against homes that are not neighborhood compatible and helping derail the SUPER Project proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers that conservationists felt relied too heavily on concrete.
Rollinger proposed and now chairs the Laguna Canyon Flood Mitigation Task Force and voted in favor of the proposed state ban on fishing in most of Laguna's coastal waters.
She also supports the preservation of historic buildings, arts organizations and programs that improve residents' quality of life.
On Tuesday, Rollinger voted against the "Quiet Zone" of preferential parking around Mozambique because it doesn't deal with what she considers the root problem — a nightclub in a residential neighborhood.
"I don't think it should be there," Rollinger said.
She also objected to funding the zone with almost $23,000 in revenue from traffic tickets.
"I think it is wrong-minded," Rollinger said.
Later in the council meeting, Rollinger stated her objection to legislating "growing things," referring to a complaint about the height of a hedge.
The Sept. 25 fundraiser at a rebuilt cottage on Lombardy Lane will be an opportunity for voters to share their ideas with Rollinger. The cost is $85, which will include hors d'oeuvres, wine and a silent auction.
For tickets and more information, visit http://www.vernarollinger.com.