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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | SADDLEBACK /
SOUTH BEACH: SAN CLEMENTE

Development Issues Dominate Election

October 17, 1998|LINN GROVES

Development issues and a lack of incumbents seeking reelection have spurred 16 candidates to run for three seats on the City Council in a race that could dramatically affect local politics.

The candidates are Mary Anna Anderson, Ray L. Benedicktus, Carol A. Bonner, Kurt A. Conone, Scott Diehl, G. Wayne Eggleston, Kevin T. Evans, Michelle K. Gillen, Gary R. Hartung, Dan Hensley, John Koch, Paul H. Linden, Thomas L. Padberg, Susan Ritschel, John P. Robinson and Keith R. Trezek.

Councilmen Patrick M. Ahle, Joseph Anderson and Steve Apodaca decided against seeking reelection. The two remaining members are Mayor Jim Dahl and Councilwoman Lois R. Berg.

The crowded field of candidates is a big change from the last election in 1996, when four candidates sought two seats.

What's changed?

A majority of the council candidates said they were inspired to run for council to oppose some of the major development issues facing the community.

Supporters contend that the development is important to provide a much-needed boost in city revenue and bring financial stability. But opponents say the projects would ruin the city's small-town character and coastal beauty.

Among the hot issues:

* Marblehead Coastal. The council in August approved a plan including 434 single-family homes, a retail outlet center, a movie theater and a 14-acre canyon preserve. A group of residents formed San Clemente Citizens for Responsible Development to overturn the plan by trying to organize a ballot initiative. The group favors a resort hotel and golf course for the ocean-view parcel.

* The Beach Trail. A proposed 2.2-mile path would run along the city's beaches and connect to statewide coastal trails. The project faces opposition from the Surfrider Foundation and a local group, Derail the Trail. Supporters say the trail would make the beaches accessible to more visitors, but opponents contend it would harm the environment.

* Casa Romantica. The historic home of city founder Ole Hanson has been a source of debate since the city bought it for $2.5 million in 1989. The redevelopment agency in July approved placing a Mexican restaurant in the landmark building but recently, in the face of opposition from preservationists, offered the mansion's current occupant, a wedding business, another chance to submit a proposal to stay.

Other issues facing the city include the revitalization of the El Camino Real and North Beach areas, the location of the final section of the Foothill South tollway, how to cope with development of the 4,965-home Talega community, the safety of the railroad tracks along the beach and the need for more youth activities and facilities.

San Clemente Candidates

Here are the candidates running for three seats on the San Clemente City Council in the Nov. 3 election. John P. Robinson and Keith R. Trezek could not be reached for comment.

Mary Anna Anderson

Age: 55

Occupation: Community volunteer; housewife

Background: Attended four years of college, including Saddleback College and San Diego State; board member, Parks and Recreation Commission; president and board member, San Clemente Ocean Festival; Chamber of Commerce; past PTA member; youth sports involvement with two sons

Issues: Increase information through more neighborhood forums and public hearings; unite city groups and pursue motto, "positive focus for our future"

*

Ray L. Benedicktus

Age: 78

Occupation: Retired engineer

Background: Bachelor's degree in maritime studies, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Long Island, N.Y.); studied engineering at the University of Alaska; president, San Clemente Historical Society

Issues: Supports a resort on Marblehead coastal property; supports a natural beach as Surfrider Foundation favors, against any beach trail; seeks to preserve and restore Casa Romantica for cultural use, opposed to proposed restaurant

*

Carol A. Bonner

Age: 53

Occupation: Former city volunteer services manager

Background: Studied business administration at the University of Virginia; member, San Clemente Task Force for Youth Steering Committee, League of Women Voters, United Way South Regional Council; volunteer, Friends of San Clemente Animals; mentor, CSP Gang Prevention Program

Issues: Changing the "business unfriendly" image of city by encouraging business investment and working with local merchants; preserving historical structures through the Mills Act and revitalizing older commercial areas; encouraging public, private and nonprofit entities in city to build, fund and administer city projects together

*

Kurt A. Conone

Age: 42

Occupation: Economist; broker

Background: Associate degree, Saddleback College; studied economics at University of San Diego; worked on committees of

the Chicago Mercantile Exchange while a broker; several professional memberships; volunteer, Muscular Dystrophy Assn.

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