Carlos F. Negrete, an outspoken critic of the city Establishment and a local real estate attorney, announced Monday that he will seek the open seat in the newly redrawn 73rd Assembly District.
Negrete, 35, has never attempted a bid for public office and will run as a Republican. The other announced candidate, Dana Point Mayor Mike Eggers, also is running as a Republican.
By traditional San Juan Capistrano standards, Negrete is a newcomer to the area, a native of Inglewood who moved his practice from Laguna Hills to San Juan Capistrano five years ago. But since first appearing at City Hall a year ago to criticize officials for their support of the San Joaquin Hills toll road, Negrete has thrust his name into the local headlines.
As chairman of the fledgling Committee to Restore Integrity in San Juan Capistrano, Negrete sued seven city officials in March, claiming they had misused public funds and used "creative employment contracts" to pay city employees. The pending lawsuit names four longtime City Council members, City Manager Stephen B. Julian and City Administrative Director David P. Bentz.
Julian has since filed a slander lawsuit against Negrete.
Last summer, Negrete launched a failed recall drive against two of the council members named in the lawsuit, Gary L. Hausdorfer and Kenneth E. Friess, who was the city's mayor at the time. In November, Negrete filed a $10-million claim against the city, charging that his free-speech rights had been violated.
The lawsuits are part of the "message" Negrete said he intends to send during the upcoming months.
"The message we are going to send, not just to the San Juan Capistrano City Council but to other city councils and government officials, is that the people are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore," Negrete said. "It seems every time I pick up the newspaper I find another city government or city official accused of wrongdoing or waste. I don't know what kind of fraternity this is, but I'm part of a separate group which endorses an end to taxpayer waste and a new, stricter accountability."
Negrete did not waste any time lashing out at his primary opponent, Eggers, whom he called a "career politician," referring to his job as an aide to U.S. Rep. Ron Packard (R-Oceanside).
"I want to make a change from career politicians and bureaucrats and bring this office back to the people," Negrete said.
The new 73rd Assembly District reaches into San Diego County as far south as Carlsbad, including some of Vista and Temecula; north to Laguna Hills; and west into a small section of Laguna Beach.
The state Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the final configurations of the districts Jan. 28.