Mayor Pearson not running for reelection

Mayor Elizabeth Pearson will not be running for a fourth term on the Laguna Beach City Council.

"When I was in the interview stages last March for my new position at Pacific Chorale, I was specifically asked if I would run after my current term," said Pearson, president and chief executive of the nonprofit organization, which is the resident choir of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

"There was concern that my attention would be diverted from the very demanding job as president and chief executive of the organization. I made a commitment upon hiring that I would not run this cycle. So, the bottom line is, I can't run for City Council this year if I am to keep my promise."

Pearson, who ran for the council in 2000 and lost, ran again and won three consecutive terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

She served 6 1/2 years on the Planning Commission, bringing the time Pearson has been a public servant in the city to 18 1/2 years, the longest of any current council member.

Before serving on the Planning Commission, Pearson served on the Economic Development Committee and also was president of the North Laguna Community Assn. for three terms.

"I should say that I think it is a good idea, for both the community as well as any elected or appointed public servant, to take a break after 12 consecutive years," Pearson said. "It allows new people and ideas to surface. 

"I also think it is important that it occur before the long-term public servant gets to the point where the words, 'We tried that and it didn't work' begin to become a mantra. Those kinds of utterances block creativity and just shut new people and ideas down. If a public servant chooses to return later in a new — or the same — role, the hope is that they would do so with a fresh outlook."

Three of five council seats will be up for grabs in the Nov. 4 election.

Councilman Kelly Boyd said he will seek a third term provided his health is good; Councilwoman Toni Iseman said she has not yet decided whether she will run.

Pearson said she will support Boyd and Heritage Committee chairman Jon Madison in their bids and added she may endorse a third candidate by November. Planning Commission Chairman Robert Zur Schmiede and former Laguna Beach Republicans President Michele Hall are also in the race. Madison is the owner of Madison Square & Garden Cafe.

"I will throw my support to candidates who have either served on one of Laguna's city commissions or committees, who have publicly demonstrated substantial support of our businesses and the arts, and who have exhibited, through their actions, a heart for our seniors," Pearson said.

Pearson, who lives in Laguna Beach, said she plans to be involved in the city's arts community, serving as a volunteer board member for both Laguna Beach Live! and Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn., and as a supporter of the Laguna Playhouse.

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