By CHRIS LAVIN
EDITOR

LA MESA – The candidates for City Council and Mayor appeared together in the first major community forum of the election year and the only real heat of this La Mesa Chamber of Commerce candidate’s night was exchanged between Mayor Art Madrid and his opponent Laura Lothian.

Madrid, a 20-year veteran of the mayor’s office, explained he was angered by Lothian’s campaign calls to “clean house,’’ which he said implied the city is dirty or corrupt, so he attacked Lothian from start to finish on this candidate night. “She has said she needs $50,000 to win this race,’’ Madrid mocked. “I suggest she hire Molly Maids and she can get her house cleaned two people for $45 per hour."

Madrid criticized Lothian’s voting record, saying she’s voted only six times in the last 17 voting opportunities, and accused Lothian of using the candidacy to promote her real estate business. “If you are going to be a candidate, you should act like a candidate,’’ Madrid said.

For the most part, Lothian did not attack back, though she scoffed at Madrid’s questioning of her motives in running.

“I would never get into a campaign like this to raise my business profile,’’ she said.

Lothian repeated several times throughout the evening that her concerns for the city were spurred by seeing signs of lethargy, graffiti lingering on buildings, trash collecting along highways.

At one point Madrid displayed a photo of a trash-filled highway interchange he said Lothian’s campaign has been circulating.

“You’d think a candidate would know the city limits,’’ Madrid charged. “This photo is in Lemon Grove.’’

Apart from the icy and hot exchanges between the two mayoral candidates, the rest of the evening was a series of heart-felt and cordial answers to questions posed to council candidates of clearly different experience levels.

At varying moments, all the newcomer challengers for the council seats – Ian Shiff, Kevin Rynearson, and Patrick Dean – made public acknowledgement of their lack of political experience. Shiff and Rynearson stumbled at times to give specific answers posed by a clearly well-informed audience. Dean, also a newcomer, held his own with incumbent’s Ernie Ewin and Mark Arapostathis, whose long tenure and familiarity with issues clearly helped distinguish them from the newcomers.

The Chamber’s candidate’s night was particularly well moderated. The technique of filtering written questions from the audience kept the evening well above the sort of partisan exchanges and audience speech-making that are frequently part of candidate nights.

The candidates will gather again Oct. 1 for a Kiwanis sponsored event at the Couts Cottage next door to the La Mesa Community Center.

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Tags: Government

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Comment by Kristin Kjaero on September 29, 2010 at 12:55pm
For information on the City's utility undergrounding program currently underway, visit http://www.cityoflamesa.com/index.aspx?NID=462 .

To receive notices about the Park Station proposal (and General Plan update, Village streetscape improvement and more), you can sign up for the City's "Notify Me" program at http://www.cityoflamesa.com/List.aspx .
Comment by william adams on September 29, 2010 at 12:08pm
As we all know, La Mesa has one of the highest sales taxes in the County - already far higher than that which the City of San Diego appears poised to reject. It appears that we are paying for a doggedly determined march to destroy the small town character that many of us love about this town. The Police Station has been nominated for an Onion award and will be an eye sore for years to come, as is the strip mall erected on La Mesa Blvd by the City's redevelopment agency. Next up: 18 story Park Station accross the street from Ft. La Mesa. In contrast even broke City of San Diego is steadily undergrounding its utility lines, yet our City rather spend it on El Cajonization. Time for a change.
Comment by Ian I Shiff on September 20, 2010 at 8:53am
we ARE going to change the face of La Mesa - a NEW Mayor - a NEW council that will improve the way the public views the council/mayor and make the changes the COMMUNITY is asking for.
Comment by Squadron on September 19, 2010 at 3:53pm
Dennis, Craig, and Ian -- We are in agreement -- Viable Change Means Dump the Incumbents - Fresh Air, Remove the Stench, for those who have used their post for all the wrong reasons. Doing constiuents services is serving the public not oneself. Get out the vote - Get the absentees to turn their ballots in early, and make history.
Comment by Dennis S. Twiss on September 18, 2010 at 5:07pm
It's laughable that Mr. Madrid has the temerity to take issue with Laura lothian's comment about it being time to "clean house" in La Mesa. Mr. Madrid has done more single-handedly to dirty La Mesa'S image with his drunken antics than anyone else in this great city. Add to that, the so-called "Tanner Affair", where Mr. Madrid chose to abuse the civil rights of a concerned citizen, and eventually threatened to do so again under like circumstances.

Laura Lothian is right, it is indeed time to "clean" house in La Mesa; ...time to take out the trash! Here in La Mesa, the pre-election mantra should be DUMP THE INCUMBENTS!!!
Comment by Craig S. Maxwell on September 17, 2010 at 2:03pm
Excellent points, Ian. Our Founders staked the fate the nation on the good judgment of the average man. Eleventy-two term politicians, on the other hand, are a lot like that forgotten food in the back of your refrigerator--they stink.
Comment by Ian I Shiff on September 17, 2010 at 1:46pm
thanks Chris for adding a by line - i must have missed it.
Comment by Ian I Shiff on September 17, 2010 at 12:32pm
Many of the questions were posed about solututions for city employees (benefits, pension, etc) - this might have an impact on around 300 people working for the city - how about the other 50 thousand plus living in the city? I was hoping for questions that would enable me to answer questions that would have an impact on a larger scale.

Also, I will not give a spun answer to deflect the question. I am a true believer in the fact that if you don't know the answer - don't pretend you do. I got right to the point on every question - didn't take the time to prop myself on a pedestal - and answered the questions well within the time limit. If that is "stumbling" - then consider me stumbling for office. It's not politics as usual in my book. Also, a lack of political experience means NOTHING if you can listen and learn from those around you. Making good decisions is a not a political attribute - it's a skillset developed over years of making mistakes, reflecting on those mistakes and your wins and putting your best foot forward. Having worked in the news idustry for many years, i am actually taken aback by the bias in this particular blog by an unnamed author - where is the the byline?
Comment by Linus Ewell on September 17, 2010 at 12:26pm
I am voting for Ms. Lothian. I think Mr. Madrid is rude.
Comment by Craig S. Maxwell on September 17, 2010 at 10:56am
“Hypocrite: : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.” (Merriam-Webster)
First, on the 4th of August, 2004, Art Madrid commits hit-and-run at Norm's Cocktails when he runs over a vintage Harley-Davidson, and then splits the scene. The poor owner of the bike had to track him down on a tip from the bartender. Madrid later settled for thousands out of court!
Then, as we all know, on February 20th, 2008 police find him passed-out drunk, (next to his running car) on the side of the road.
Yet at their first debate, Madrid tells candidate Lothian that if she's “going to be a candidate, you should act like a candidate’’!?
Uh, right.

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