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Civic Leaders and Public Policy Dominated Election Year
LA MESA – In the course of a community’s year, there is always a person who rises to dominate this first draft of history. For good reasons or bad, he or she becomes the story of that year for the town, a literal or metaphoric representation of the best or the worst in all of us.
And so it is in designating the First Annual La Mesa Today Person of the Year. In consultation and discussion with civic and business leaders, a variety of names and reasons were raised for consideration:
Laura Lothian, the local realtor whose scrappy run for mayor reminded all that politics in the Jewel of the Hills can be pointed and meaningful.
Gina Garcia, the publisher of our own LaMesaToday.com, whose new on-line publication has spurred a mini-revolution in La Mesa news coverage.
With more than 30 years in local politics, Art Madrid must have known that running for re-election in 2010 was likely to put him through a bit of a wringer. His personal foibles during the previous term were undoubtedly going to be raised by his detractors – and they were.
Still, Madrid can be said to have guided his city particularly well through some of the most challenging economic times in its 98-year history. While other municipalities have faced layoffs and drastic service cuts, Madrid had the ability to win the trust of voters who approved a sales tax increase and funding for a new firehouse and police station. While other towns now grapple with their unions about pension contributions, La Mesa has already traveled those difficult waters and Madrid was at the helm throughout.
One might have understood if Madrid decided to retire after 20 years in the mayor’s seat, but he chose to face the music for his personal failings and soldier on. He won. Now he will have the honor of leading the city through its centennial year in 2012. And, eventually, perhaps after this term, he will face the final challenge of his long service to the people of La Mesa, leaving the helm and assuring a vibrant and engaged leadership in his wake.