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Choices Abound in Council Race
LA MESA -- Within minutes of the start of Thursday's candidates forum, it was clear the five candidates would be giving La Mesa a broad range of choices in filling the two council seats.
There were the Intellectuals, the geologist/fine art dealer (right brain and left brain!) Shannon O'Dunn and the attorney, Kristine Alessio. These two spoke in clear sentences, linking to paragraphs and leading close listeners to quickly calculate a rising council IQ if these two won.
O'Dunn could even conjure quick populist metaphors that followed well thought out policy: Of the PBID she said "I came to the conclusion that the dog had flees but it could hunt.''
Alessio impressed by reminding a group of candidates willing to do the populist criticism of the Park Station high rise project that it probably wouldn't be wise to prejudge a preliminary project before it formally comes before the council in full relief.
And then there were the Populists, Laura Lothian and one time political ally incumbent Ruth Sterling. Both of these candidates hit tones clearly measured to move the masses; Lothian using dreaded trash graffiti and homeless issue and Sterling at one point dragging out fear of flouride to the surprise of Helix Water District officials in the audience.
And then there was the Centrist, Patrick Dean, who has religiously attended City Council meetings for the last two years, learned the many factions that run through the city and seems to almost contort himself to avoid being seen as part of any one of them. Of course, Dean can run the risk of remaining undefined in the voters mind as well.
The forum was largely civil and the overall quality of the five candidates seemed to gain respect from the crowd of 75 or so who were drawn to this first candidate event of the season.
Ernie Ewin was the only other council member who attended, though the audience did include candidates for other offices, including the Helix Water District, school board and state assembly seats.
The four non-incumbents came equipped with banners, pamphlets and some giveaways. Sterling, a 20-year veteran of these scenes was clearly relying on her deep roots. She announced to the crowd she was choosing to use up campaign materials she originally produced in 1996. "I just couldn't throw them out," she said, causing smiles throughout the hall.