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.

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Tags: City of La Mesa, Ernie Ewin, Helix Water District, Kristine Alessio, La Mesa, La Mesa City Council, La Mesa Today, La Mesa news, La Mesa newspaper, Laura Lothian, More…PBID, Patrick Dean, Shannon O'Dunn


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Comment by Tiffany Shepherd on September 15, 2012 at 7:28am

I'm glad to hear that the fluoride issue is being discussed.  It is time that we tackle getting this unprescribed medication out of our water system and out of our children's bodies.

Comment by Scott H. Kidwell on September 14, 2012 at 2:29pm

Thanks for the article. It was good to see some issues of important on the table for discussion. But talk alone is insufficient. With another forum in two weeks maybe we can look forward to hearing more detailed ideas of how these cadidates plan to start dealing with the pension debt, employee group negotiations, excessive benefits for retired part-time elected officials, prioritizing city services to the projected budgets beyond just saying public saftety is #1, continued improvement of open government and transparency and junket reporting, allocations of parking meter money, the when/where/how/why/cost/purpose of the mentioned downtown parking garage, the method of increasing revenues (taxes/fees?) as has been mentioned, and so on.

Comment by Russell Buckley on September 14, 2012 at 11:18am

I was disappointed at the responses of all five to the question about how they intend to do deal with the $31 million unfunded pension liability that cost us about $2.3 million to finance this year (and last year). And it will certainly be higher next year. They seem to have no more ideas about how to deal with it than the sitting council. Surely we can do better than to just dump two million a year down the sewer. 

Comment by Lisa Moore on September 14, 2012 at 10:53am


Comment by Gregory Spire on September 14, 2012 at 10:50am

Talk about traffic issues and getting the police to enforce the speed limits on the streets. 

Comment by La Mesa Today on September 14, 2012 at 10:10am

The League of Women Voters will sponsor and moderate a candidate forum for the 2012 election.

The forum will be held on September 27 from 7 to 9 pm at the La Mesa City Council Chambers, located at 8130 Allison Avenue, La Mesa.  Invited candidates include Kristine C. Alessio, Patrick Dean, Laura Lothian, Shannon O’Dunn, and Ruth Sterling. 

Comment by Lisa Moore on September 14, 2012 at 9:40am

When and where is the next candidates forum?

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