Mayoral and council challengers say it’s time for fresh faces at City Hall.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
In an election year when furloughs have squeezed city services into a four-day week, developers are playing dead and the foreclosure industry seems to be the only boom in Seaside, the city’s November races for mayor and City Council are likely to make even the entrenched incumbents sweat.
Mayoral challenger Felix Bachofner, a marketing business owner and former city planning commissioner, is taking on Ralph Rubio, a lifelong Seasider and carpenters union organizer who’s sat on the city dais for a decade – the first four years as councilman, the last six as mayor.
Bachofner takes an aggressive approach to the race, criticizing the incumbent council as in lockstep and resistant to citizen feedback. His website includes proposed approaches to a dozen Seaside issues, along with several videos of his appearances during the council’s public comment periods.
While the city races are nonpartisan, Bachofner’s politics lean to the right in a town where 56 percent of registered voters are Democrats. His priorities as mayor include reducing taxes, boosting private development and shrinking government influence.
Council incumbents Tom Mancini and Dennis Alexander, meanwhile, face competition from longtime Seasiders Annalisa Mitchell and Alvin Edwards.
Edwards, a Seaside fire captain who’s served on the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board since 1997 (and has unsuccessfully run for both the local school board and City Council), says the council has gotten stagnant.
“That’s where the transparency part comes in,” he says. “Some of the big issues we put on the consent calendar instead of making it an action item.”
As a councilman, Edwards says, he’d “ensure the city manager gives full disclosure in matters such as the dismissal of our chief of police” – a shout out to City Hall critics who have called for the ouster of City Manager Ray Corpuz. He’s also at odds with Corpuz’s support for a Peninsula-wide fire services merger.
Mitchell, an addiction specialist and probationer therapist, is an organizer on the Democratic Central Committee – but says she was close with former Mayor Jerry Smith, a Republican who passed away in 2007. She notes that despite Seaside’s history of strong female leaders, she’s the first woman to run for council in several elections: “Too many men up there.”
Her campaign is built on the relatively safe ground of support for seniors and youth. She couches her goals in positive but vague terms – “we can be the best we can be” – and avoids taking a position on Corpuz’s performance.
The incumbents, by contrast, all defend their support for Corpuz in the Cercone matter. They’re also on the same page with their goals for Seaside: Each includes fiscal diversity, revenue creation, economic development and redevelopment, maintaining public safety and establishing a sustainable water supply among top priorities.
That solidarity extends to the campaign. Alexander, Mancini and Rubio all support one another, though Rubio notes he did not make official endorsements.
The challengers are more cautious about dissing potential fellow councilmembers. Bachofner declines to endorse anyone, though he adds, “I think it would be fun to work with Alvin Edwards.”
Edwards and Mitchell each tell the Weekly they’d like to replace long-term councilman Mancini; Edwards also says he supports Bachofner for mayor. But on the Weekly’s candidate questionnaire, they both say they’re still undecided on endorsements.
The full responses are posted at www.mcweekly.com/seaside2010.