Muller, Tomlinson and Viczorek win City Council seats
By Andrea Swayne
Dana Point voters have chosen three newcomers to local politics to fill the three open seats on City Council.
Attorney and Marine Corps Reserve Lt. Col. Richard Viczorek and property management business owners John Tomlinson and Joe Muller were the top three vote-getters out of nine non-incumbent candidates vying for three openings on the council.
They will join Councilmen Carlos Olvera and Scott Schoeffel, who each have two years left in their terms.
The three open seats are being vacated by Mayor Lisa Bartlett, who was just elected to the Fifth District seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors; Councilman Bill Brough, who has been elected to the California Assembly 73rd District seat and Mayor Pro Tem Steven Weinberg, who is terming out.
Tomlinson was the night’s top vote-getter with 2,747 votes, followed by Viczorek’s 2,656 votes and Muller, with 2,570.
Jody Payne and Alan Wickstrom were close behind, a mere 7 votes apart at 2,531 to 2,524.
Nancy Jenkins, Harold Kaufman, Ryan Divel and Chuck Rathbone earned 2,315, 2,056 1,644 and 1,397 votes, respectively.
At 8:05 p.m. when the mail-in vote was reported, less than 200 votes separated top candidate Tomlinson from then sixth-place Payne and the race appeared to be anybody’s game. Although there was movement among the candidates in the fourth, fifth and sixth positions during the night, the top three held true throughout.
Winners’ Priorities Include Business Growth, Problem Solving
Throughout their campaigns, and in their responses to questions which were part of the DP Times pre-election coverage, the newly-elected councilmen stressed a need to continue the forward momentum toward community development in Dana Point, maintaining and improving the city’s business friendliness and strengthening the local economy.
They agree the city has a history of being business friendly, but acknowledge that more can be done in order to attract new businesses and offer assistance to existing businesses, especially in the underserved areas of town, such as Capistrano Beach.
All three feel strongly about turning the attention now being paid to the Town Center/Lantern District and the Harbor toward Capistrano Beach businesses as expediently as possible by resuming the planning process for Doheny Village revitalization.
Muller expressed the need to focus on resident-serving business and strike a better balance between the needs of businesses and residents.
“We have a history of putting the residents before business,” Muller said. “What we need to keep in mind is some of our business owners are also residents. Their needs should be equally important.”
Streamlining the approval process in order to make opening a new business in the city more attractive to prospective business owners is also tops on their to-do lists for the upcoming term.
“Opening a new business in Dana Point should not be a drawn out process as long as the business conforms to existing zoning laws,” Tomlinson said. “Why punish someone who is investing their hard earned dollars in our community with needless delays and red tape? I will do whatever it takes to change the status quo and return common sense to the process.”
All three stressed a need to minimize regulations and keep fees and taxes low.
With regard to Town Center/Lantern District development, they see the Town Center Specific Plan and existing zoning regulations as a good guide for the area that should be followed as revitalization in the area moves forward.
“The Town Center Plan is the main ‘law’ concerning land use and development in that area,” Viczorek said. “Coming together as a community to develop the Town Center plan was the best way to balance the competing interests of our city. We should do the same for Doheny Village … always making sure to respect and take into account the various viewpoints of everyone throughout the city.”
The three also expressed support for the recently raised initiative to build a skatepark in Dana Point.
Muller pledged his support, as long as a site can be found that will not create negative impacts on residential neighborhoods, a sentiment shared by Tomlinson and Viczorek.
Tomlinson favors funding construction of a skatepark via private funding and donations or finding a private company to build and operate it. He is opposed to locating it in Sea Terrace Park.
Viczorek favors careful research into all related costs, including liability, before moving forward and also would like to explore private funding/operation for the project.
All are in favor of the direction the current City Council gave to city staff asking that other non-city-owned jurisdictions be explored as site options.
On Being Elected
Muller said he was both humbled and honored to have been chosen to serve on the council and thanked his supporters not only for their financial help, but also for their time, wisdom and direction.
“I will work hard to show the residents trust has not been misplaced,” he said. “I will continue on the path the current council has set and promote the economic development we need to protect residents and taxpayers. Together we will shape Dana Point’s future.”
Viczorek also expressed gratitude to his supporters and the other candidates for their willingness to serve the community.
“I would also like to congratulate Joe Muller and John Tomlinson on their election to the city council. I look forward to working with them, as well as the two current councilmen, to maintain our city’s positive momentum and to move our city forward,” Viczorek said. “One of the best things about our city is that it is composed of citizens who love it deeply and are willing to donate their time, efforts and abilities to serve and improve it. I am eager to get to work on behalf of Dana Point. Thank you for placing your trust in me.”
John Tomlinson was pulled away on out-of-town business shortly after getting the good news of his upcoming City Council term and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Runners Up Pledge Continued Service, Councilman Welcomes Newcomers
Councilman Olvera expressed his happiness on election night, saying he is pleased with the results of the election and hopes that the other hopefuls will continue their community involvement.
“I look forward with excitement to welcoming three new council members,” Olvera said. “Several other candidates were well-qualified and I hope they stay involved in Dana Point civic affairs.”
Councilman Scott Schoeffel, said he is also looking forward to working with Tomlinson, Muller and Viczorek.
“I know John (Tomlinson) well and urged him to run, endorsed him and expect we will be a very good councilman,” Schoeffel said. “I got to spend some time with Rick (Viczorek) and Joe (Muller) and think they are very capable people and expect good things from them. I think we have a pretty good mix.”
Payne, Wickstrom and Jenkins—fourth, fifth and sixth in the race—expressed satisfaction with their efforts, wished the winners well and say they intend to stay involved in the community.
Jody Payne, just 65 votes out of the top three, feels she ran a strong campaign.
“Obviously I am disappointed. I came pretty close,” Payne said. “It was an exciting race and I am thrilled to have met so many great people in Dana Point. I would definitely like to stay in the game, stay involved in the community. I wish the winners the best of luck.”
Candidate Alan Wickstrom ended the race a mere 75 votes out of the top three. At a gathering of friends, family and supporters at Surfin Cowboy in Capo Beach, Wickstrom said he was disappointed but pleased with the positive campaign he ran, thanked his supporters and affirmed his dedication to community service.
“I want to congratulate John Tomlinson, Rick Viczorek and Joe Muller on their win and wish them all the best as we all welcome a new era in our city’s government,” Wickstrom said. “I encourage each of them to be true to their hearts, to residents and especially to the youth and seniors in our town.”
Nancy Jenkins said she was also pleased with her campaign and the experience has brought her closer to the community. She said it made her more vested in helping the Del Prado businesses survive during Town Center/Lantern District construction and committed to joining Capo Cares, a community enhancement committee created by Capo Beach residents to address that area’s specific needs.
“I wish the new councilmen the best of luck in working for Dana Point and keeping it the coastal town where we all want to live,” Jenkins said. “Walking the neighborhoods opened my eyes to different points of view and issues that, win or lose, I am committed to staying involved with.”
OTHER REGIONAL ELECTION RESULTS
San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano City Councils to Welcome a Mix of Incumbents and Newcomers
In San Clemente, voters returned Mayor Tim Brown and Councilwoman Lori Donchak to their second and third terms, respectively. The race was for the third council seat, which was won by Planning Commissioner Kathy Ward, who defeated former four-term councilmember Jim Dahl by 1,133 votes.
Donchak and Brown had been favored to return to their seats. Ward replaces one-term councilmember Jim Evert, who chose not to seek another term. Brown was the leading vote getter, with 7,537 votes to Donchak’s 6,609.
The city is entering an era of change, with an outlet center scheduled to be finished in late 2015 and construction of Avenida La Pata and reconstruction on Interstate 5 and the Avenida Pico interchange and voters largely chose familiar hands to shepherd it through that period.
The remaining contenders were Mikii Rathmann, who finished with 3,268 votes, Ricardo “Rick” Nicol with 2,793 and Fred Olsen with 2,095.
San Juan residents voted for a change in City Hall, ousting council incumbents Larry Kramer and John Taylor from their seats. Voters chose to reelect Councilman Derek Reeve and welcome two newcomers to the dais—Pam Patterson and Kerry Ferguson.
Patterson, an attorney and businesswoman, claimed the first council seat with 3,334 votes, or about 17.8 percent of the vote. Reeve was reelected with 3,152 votes and Ferguson, an educator and businesswoman, took the final seat with 2,802 votes. Both are considered allies of Reeve and the three ran as a trio.
Former council members Larry Kramer and John Taylor fell below Ferguson with 2,139 votes and 1,963 votes, respectively, and architect Robert Williams trailed closely behind with 1,960 votes. Newcomers Jan Siegel and Stephanie Frisch received 1,621 and 1,489 votes. Despite bowing out of the council race in September, Greg Acho received 224 votes.
South Coast Water District
In the South Coast Water District race, newcomers William “Bill” Green and Dennis Erdman won the two open director’s seats—Green with 36.2 percent of the vote and Erdman with 21.3 percent.
Incumbent Bob Moore finished with 15.5 percent, Richard Gardner with 14.3 percent and Norm Denton with 12.8 percent.
Capo Unified Children First Candidates Win
One of two incumbents seeking reelection to the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees will return to office, with 52 percent of the vote.
Lynn Hatton will once again serve as Area 6 trustee, a region that includes Mission Viejo, on the seven member board beating out challenger Julie Collier by less than 500 votes.
In the race for San Juan Capistrano’s Area 6 representation, Gila Jones beat out incumbent Ellen M. Addonizio, the last of the “ABC” trustees first elected in 2006. With 29 of 29 precincts reporting in the race, Jones tallied 59 percent of the vote to Addonizio’s 41 percent.
Area 4 candidate Martha McNicholas took an early lead when mail-in ballot numbers were released at 8:05 p.m.—a lead she held until the end. McNicholas took 57 percent of the vote, topping opponent Craig Alexander who had 42 percent. The incumbent, Anna Bryson chose not to seek reelection for the area seat that represents a portion of Dana Point.
McNicholas, Jones and Hatton are each endorsed by the Capistrano Unified Children First group that also supports board members John Alpay and Gary Pritchard. They, along with Amy Hanacek and Jim Reardon, the lone remaining “reform” trustee, were not up for reelection.
Kashkari Concedes to Brown in Gubernatorial Race
The earliest polling results posted Tuesday night showed Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown with a substantial lead over his GOP challenger Neel Kashkari.
As of 9 p.m., Kashkari conceded to Brown before a crowd at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa where he congratulated the unprecedented four-term governor. During his concession speech, Kashkari urged Brown to utilize his last four years in office to “be the boldest governor in California history” and told supporters that he was “just getting warmed up.”
Brown is the 39th governor of California, an office he held between 1975 and 1983 as the state’s 34th. Prior to his gubernatorial win, Brown served as secretary of state under former President Ronald Reagan.
He was elected in 1974, becoming one of California’s youngest governors. Brown ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, 1980 and 1992, and also sought a United States Senate seat in 1982. His political career was revived in 1998 when he was elected mayor of Oakland. After 28 years, Brown returned to the governor’s office—becoming the oldest California governor in history.
The 76-year-old’s victory was accompanied by the reelection of two fellow Democrats: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.
While Brown will serve a fourth term as governor, Orange County voters overwhelmingly voted against him. County figures from all 1863 precincts show local voters supported Kashkari with 56 percent of the vote to Brown’s 43 percent, or 255,230 votes to 197,124, respectively.
Orange County Republicans Take State Races
Three south Orange County Republican politicians with ties to Dana Point took early commanding leads in their races for higher office and didn’t let up.
Patricia Bates, current Orange County Supervisor for the 5th District, registered 66 percent of the vote against Democrat Gary Kephart in the state Senate 36th District race.
Bates’ seat was being contested by Lisa Bartlett, mayor of Dana Point, and Robert Ming, a Laguna Niguel councilman. With all 438 of district precincts reporting, Bartlett notched a commanding victory with 54.9 percent of the vote.
In the state Board of Equalization 4th District race, Diane Harkey tallied 773,438 votes, or 62 percent of votes cast, to contender Nader Shahatit’s 473,128 votes.
Harkey currently serves as assemblywoman for the 73rd District, a contest that saw Dana Point City Councilman Bill Brough take down lawyer and college professor Wendy Gabriella, with 68 percent of the vote. Brough, who worked on Harkey’s staff, will take over his former boss’ seat, one that was held by Bates for three terms in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Darrell Issa Re-Elected to Congress, Adds to Majority
Rep. Darrell Issa will return to U.S. House of Representatives.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Issa marked a commanding victory over opponent Dave Peiser in the 49th Congressional District race, which encompasses portions of northern San Diego and southern Orange counties. Redistricting after the 2000 census removed south Orange County from Issa’s district briefly, but returned San Clemente, Dana Point and north to Ladera Ranch back into the 49th in 2012.
Issa has served in the House since 2001 and is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
All 435 Congressional seats were up for election.
Seeing victories nationwide, House Republicans maintained their majority, which has grown to 244 seats compared to the Democrats 177 with tight races from West Virginia to Arizona yet to be decided.
Voters Weigh in on State Props, Embrace “Rainy Day” Measure
In the4 midst of the state’s historic drought, Californian’s are showed strong support for the $7.5 billion water bond, backed by Gov. Brown, that will help pay for improvements to California’s water supply—including water quality, delivery and storage systems.
Returns show the measure passing with 66.8 percent of the vote.
State voters also decisively chose to overhaul the state’s rainy day fund. Proposition 2, which will require the state to save 1.5 percent of its annual revenues to provide a greater buffer for budget shortfalls, was favored by 68.7 percent of California voters.
Two medical-related propositions were voted down by Californians.
The first, proposition 45, which was being fought by HMOs in the weeks leading up to the election, fell to 3.024 million “no” votes, or 59.8 percent of votes cast. The measure, if passed, would have given the state’s insurance commissioner the power to cap insurance costs. It would have also required insurance companies to give reason for any price increases.
Voters rejected proposition 46 which would increase malpractice settlements and require drug tests for doctors. The law would have raised lawsuit limit awards from $250,000 to approximately $1.1 million.
Additionally, the proposition would have mandated that hospitals randomly test physicians for drug and alcohol use. The measure would have also tested doctors after the occurrence of medical mistakes caused a patient’s death or severe disability.
When it came to reducing penalties for non-violent misdemeanor crimes, voters showed strong support. California voters widely approved the measure 2.9 million “yes” votes to 2.1 million “no” votes. The measure aims revise sentencing laws by reducing prison sentences for drug use and petty theft.
“The passage of prop 47 is yet another clear signal that the majority of Californians want an end to mass incarceration and an increase in spending on social programs” said Emily Harris, Statewide Coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget.
And while voters overwhelmingly voted Gov. Brown in for a fourth term, they rejected a law approved by the state Legislature and signed by Brown approving an off-reservation casino. Voters showed strong opposition to the measure that would have set a precedent for gaming statewide, striking the law down with 60 percent of the vote.
—Andrea Papagianis, Jim Shilander, Allison Jarrell and Jacqueline DeMarco contributed to this report.