Local Democrat to challenge Rohrabacher

A retired USC professor and management consultant plans to challenge U.S. Rep Dana Rohrabacher's seat in Congress.

Suzanne Joyce Savary, 67, a Newport Beach resident of 15 years, said Tuesday that she plans to run in the June primary race for the 48th Congressional District. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is seeking his 14th term.

Savary, a Democrat, co-founded the Newport Beach Women's Democratic Club in 2007 and has long been active on Balboa Island, where she lives. She also served on a city committee that worked to update Newport's city charter.

She taught management communications as an associate professor at USC from 1998 to 2005 and founded a management consulting firm, Savary Associates, in 1979. Her clients have included Fortune 20 companies and small biotech firms.

The Long Island, N.Y., native has a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Oswego, a master's from Hunter College and doctorate from New York University.

"The No. 1 issue that I promise is that we embrace rather than resist change," she said. "What I did as a consultant for 20 years is to be a turnaround expert. That's where I see Congress right now. They are consumed by resisting any kind of change, including anything that Barack Obama might propose or that the Democratic Party might do to move us forward."

Other candidates for the 48th are Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece; Robert John Banuelos, a congressional community liaison; and David Burns, an attorney.

The 48th district includes Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Fountain Valley and portions of Westminster and Santa Ana.

In Newport, Savary spoke against the renaming of the Bonita Canyon Sports Park for former President Ronald Reagan.

"I think that [Newport Beach Democrats] would be offended by such a designation, since we do not share [then-Mayor Keith Curry's] admiration for Ronald Reagan or the damage that he did to California," Savary told the Daily Pilot.

A bronze statue of Reagan was later approved for the park. Savary was also involved in protesting the idea of a Reagan statue at the new Civic Center, contending that it should be a nonpartisan facility.

Savary said her concerns are also for the middle class and women, whom she has long championed. At USC, she wrote case studies about female executives and also taught courses on women in management.

She said she feels like she's fighting against a "war on women" and "the politics of no."

"I have been surprised to the extent of which people of every party ... are coming up to me and saying it's time for change," Savary said. "It's time to move forward in this district."

Savary has been endorsed by the California and Orange County Democratic parties.

"This society desperately needs the ability of women to collaborate and work constructively with each other," she said. "That needs to be added to a Congress that is very much the male culture, even though we have 17% women there right now.

"The politics of no I would consider to be part of a destructive culture. This is what I spent my lifetime studying."

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