LA MESA -- One sensed during the recent election that if Councilwoman Ruth Sterling's efforts to aid challengers didn't succeed, she would find herself even more estranged from the incumbents on the five member body.
It didn't take long.
At the first post-election meeting, weighing the first substantive - albeit small dollar -- issue, the council split 4-1.
Sterling was the one.
Fresh off an election in which Mayor Art Madrid and council members Mark Arapostathis and Ernie Ewin visited frequently in all parts of La Mesa, the council quickly agreed to invest an extra $15,000 to expand the annual citizen services survey so that the results would give the council the ability to distinguish between citizen views by general neighborhoods.
Madrid, Ewin and Arapostathis all said they were reminded by their electioneering that La Mesa is a collection of different neighborhoods with different views on issues and they wanted the city's data collection to monitor those differences.
Sterling said past surveys didn't show great differences between quadrants of the city and her constituents want her to save money.
Madrid, reminding Sterling with only a touch of subtlety that he had recently done his own work among the constituents, said the better survey would give city staff better ammunition in the competition for grant monies. The city, he reminded, successfully competed for $11-million in grants last year.
Ewin, Arapostathis, and Councilman Dave Allan joined Madrid in granting the city manager's request for the better survey.
It is unlikely that all issues going foward will be 4-1. But on this first post-election night -- with Jim Wieboldt already declared as a challenger to Sterling's re-election in two years and sitting in the audience -- it was a vote that seemed to carry more meaning than weight.