Baber, McWhirter Lead Way To New Council

LA MESA – With two open seats as the rare grand prize, the 2014 City Council race came to an end Tuesday night delivering on its promise to remake La Mesa’s leadership.
As vote totals came in, it was clear that experience and deep community roots had outdueled relative newcomers with Bill Baber (above), a three-term school board member, and long-time resident Guy McWhirter (right) claiming the two four-year council terms.

With 100 percent of the vote counted, Baber had 4,434 votes and McWhirter had 3,731. Mary England, the third place finisher, had 3,196. Candidates Patrick Dean had 2,660 and Pete Gregorovic had 1,983.

"Thank you voters for choosing me as your new La Mesa City Council member,'' Baber said. "Congratulations to our new mayor, Dr. A. I am pleased we passed our term limit initiative. Term limits puts a ticking clock on every Council member. Let's not waste any time. Let's get to work to improve La Mesa.''

McWhirter was also appreciative for support he received in his first run for office.

"I appreciate the confidence and the voters' decision in allowing me to make a difference in the city of La Mesa," McWhirter said. "I am amazed by the people who helped me to succeed. It was a tough race. I was very confident with Bill, but I wasn't sure with myself. I think my deep roots helped out and the door to door work we did, perhaps a bit too early in July and August, but I know that really helped.''

The election of Baber and McWhirter instantly changes the dynamic on the council, giving the new mayor Mark Arapostathis a unified team to launch this new era for La Mesa’s leadership. Baber and McWhirter had had the support of fellow council member Kristine Alessio and both had campaigned for Arapostathis.

Baber’s election will also quickly create a vacancy on the La Mesa-Spring Valley School board where the board will need to name a temporary successor to complete Baber’s term.

In the La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board race, two incumbents will be joined by a newcomer, David Chong, who narrowly defeated incumbent Jerry Lecko for the third seat.

The Grossmont Union High School District elected Robert Shield, Jim Kelly and Gary Woods.

Helix Water Board will return both incumbents with De Ana Verbeke and Kathleen Hedberg handily beating back challenges to their water work.

La Mesa also overwhelming supported applying Term Limits to the City Council and mayor seats, meaning all council members will have to leave office after 12 years.

Voters also rejected efforts to allow medical marijuana shops into La Mesa and agreed, by a narrower margin, to convert the City Clerk position to an appointed, rather than elected, position.

For Mary England, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce's CEO, the race will undoubtedly leave a bitter taste. England had been singled out from among the five candidates and targeted by negative and sometimes anonymous mailings. McWhirter owned up to having paid for some of the attack literature, but England clearly had been targeted by funding from outside the city.

CLICK HERE for final vote totals.

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Tags: Art Madrid, Bill Baber, City of La Mesa, Guy McWhirter, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newspaper, Mark Arapostathis, Mary England, Patrick Dean, Pete Gregorovic


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Comment by Gene Carpenter on November 7, 2014 at 9:49am
Walkaways face some serious issues:

Your credit will plummet, making it tougher to get anything from a rental apartment to car insurance.
You’ll be stonewalled by the mortgage industry for seven years.
The mortgage company can come after you for the money they lose on your property when they’re forced to sell it below market value as a foreclosure. That’s the bad debt you were trying to walk away from, coming back to haunt you.
Comment by David Smyle on November 6, 2014 at 10:36pm


Still haven't had any "full disclosure" from you.  Who are you and why did you all of a sudden pop up in La Mesa during the election?  I dont think anyone who knows, supported or is a friend of ME finds your humor funny and Lavin should not have let it get posted.  It was mean spirited but then again, that is self evident from your other postings.

Some people go into foreclosure not because they can't pay but because they see no financial sense in paying on a mortgage when the house is upside down.  Hard to imagine Bill Baber couldn't afford the $110,000 mortgage on his home when he went into foreclosure.  

England nor Dr. A, nor Pete G.  nor Patrick D. and even Bill B wanted to engage in a negative campaign as it just isn't seen in La Mesa and is rarely seen in most citites to the level McWhirter and his handlers did here.  Are you saying they all have skeletons and that is why they didn't go negative? People in the past have  run on their laurels, not smear tactics.  Now any future candidate have to be scared of the McWhirters of the world digging up their past and twisiting truths and facts to try and win.  Don't think too many people want to subject themselves to that and try to run thanks to you and your like.

By the way, who made you the god of elections to only allow long time la Mesa residents being able to run?  Long time respected residents only?  What about long time non-respected residents?  Do they get to run?  What about people who live in the unicorporated area for 20 years and then move within the City Llimits for one year?  Do they get to run?  Are you the elections CZAR now?  Do you even live in La Mesa?  Go back to whereever you came from before the election.

Comment by Teresa Charpentier on November 5, 2014 at 7:46pm

Mr. Smyle,

Wow.  I didn’t stoop to calling anyone an “idiot.”  My comment about Santee is humor.  England spent her life in Lemon Grove and then even bought a condo in the city after losing her home in foreclosure.  Then she rented an apartment in La Mesa.  My point from the beginning was that she was horning in on city council seats when there were long-time, respected community residents seeking office.

After my posts, you posted foreclosure details on some of the other candidates.  Foreclosure is a world of difference from bankruptcies.  Foreclosure means you can’t pay the mortgage on *a* property, bankruptcies means you can’t (or don’t want to honor or) pay *any* of your debts.

Mary England could not have engaged in a “negative campaign” because she has too many skeletons in the closet.  Enough with the sour grapes and tales of woe.

Congratulations to the victors.  Hopefully the rifts will mend and the city fathers (and mothers) will move forward in positive ways and leave the grudges behind.


Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on November 5, 2014 at 6:03pm

Dave is absolutely correct that Term Limits initiative was the work of group.  Dave deserves a credit for pounding the proverbial pavement for a lot of signatures.  It was a joint effort for sure.  But, it is inaccurate to say Bill Baber did not write the initiative, he did.  He penned the language that was submitted to Council and then to the people.  I'm very proud to have worked with such a wonderfully dedicated group as the La Mesa Term Limits Committee.

Comment by Bill Baber on November 5, 2014 at 4:33pm

The La Mesa Term Limits Committee, many of whom are pictured here celebrating our victory last night, want to thank everyone who signed the petition and gathered signatures to put it on the ballot and the 66% of the voters who approved it.  Our  "No on K " friends engaged us in a spirited debate and we appreciate their passion for La Mesa. Many thanks to Councilmember Alessio for leading the charge to pass this initiative.


Comment by David Smyle on November 5, 2014 at 12:04pm

By the way Guy,  don't be so disingenuous to thank Mary England after you had a direct hand in putting out the three negative mailers on her. After all, you said you didn't want to get personal, really, do you think she thought it wasn't personal?.   Is this what we should expect on Council?  Backstab and then play nice?

Comment by David Smyle on November 5, 2014 at 11:33am


I too am (until the Tea Party becomes an official party) a republican and have been since Reagan.  Not sure what you read in my piece that made republicans sound stupid or like a thief.  To me, it was very republican like as far as the pionts made.  Smaller government, expense control, stopping pork or in this case unwarranted perks.  By the way, Bill Baber who likes to take credit for this did not author the Term Limits Proposition.  It was authored by a group of people and BIll just wrote it down and got it printed on the ballot statement.  In fact, I collected more volunteer petition signatures than anyone including everyone combined except for Russell Buckely who collect a similar number of signatures so my conservative roots are strong.

The problem is the Republican Party  over the past few years has abandoned many of its principals and in the case of this election, the Republican Party of San Diego County got it's fingers dirty along with the Lincoln Club in running negative mailers against one of their long time members who did nothing to deserve it other than not bowing out of the race against it's two other endorsed candidates because she was a threat to win a seat.  This shows you the power that Bill Baber has within the party to not only raise the huge amount of money for himself and for Mcwhirter but also to handwalk his running mate who had no experience or record to run on and was not was a dues paying member of the Lincoln Club at the time to get the republican endorsement. I hav no problem with that.  The Party can endorse who they want.

Rather than just try to win the two seats for their slated candidates which they would have done on the amount of mailers, signs and robo calls alone without the negative attacks on one of their own, they chose for whatever reason to help tear down the good name and reputation of another republican opponent who had served the party well over the past years, fund raised for thier candidates and had the endorsement of many other high profile Republicans.  I have a problem with the party eating one of their own for really no reason.  England who is also a long time republican would have done just a good if not better job on the council given her experience as McWhirter or Baber so the Party would have won either way no matter who won.  There are five republicans on the Council now and no matter if it was McWhriter or Engalnd, it still would have been five.

Idiots like Teresa Charpentier (and I doubt that is her real name) make stupid comments like the one below obviously knowing nothing about England's accomplishments as a CIty Councilwoman in Lemon Grove.  In fact, Bill Baber was England's Treasurer for her three terms on the Lemon Grove Council and run for State Assembly and the party and Lincoln Club endorsed England on all her previous races including the run for State Assembly against Weber 2012.  So what changed?  The party loves her and then tries to destroy her without good reason other than to get McWhirter elected and according to McWhirter to level the playing field?  Makes no sense other than political favors.

So yes, I am disallusioned with the party although still a better option than the alternative.

Comment by Guy McWhirter on November 5, 2014 at 10:41am

Good Morning La Mesa and thank you!  I know Mark, Bill and I share a deep appreciation to all of you for your support and encouragement.  I am looking forward to the opportunity of serving our city and working with Mark, Ruth, Kristine, and Bill.  They are great individuals and I hope all of you will take the time to get to know us.  I would also like to thank Mary, Pete and Patrick for their desire serve our city.


Comment by Jimmy Sanders on November 5, 2014 at 10:05am

I am with David on his points! I looked at the money and Baber, McWhirter and England all had pretty large amounts of $ to work with, and help from outside sources or PAC's. I got the "hit pieces" too along with my neighbors. No one really cared, just politics as usual. I was looking for locals, not imports, but that is just me. I would not worry too much about England since I'd bet she gets a nice yearly paycheck from her chamber pals. Gregorovic is an attorney and probably does ok. Not sure if Dean, the only Dem in the race, has enough chickens to keep him fed until 2016 rolls around and he pops up like a groundhog to again get around 15% of the vote? The Dems might want to find a new donkey to saddle up next time.

Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on November 5, 2014 at 8:06am

Congrats to Dr. A, Bill, and Guy.  Very proud to have been part of your respective teams.   Thank you La Mesa voters for approving Prop K.  

Cannot wait to get to work with a functioning City Council which includes our new Mayor.  Hoping for short meetings and real business being done. 

I hope all the candidates continue their civic involvement.  We are very fortunate in La Mesa to have such qualified and dynamic individuals run for office.  

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