Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at [email protected].
A security consultant, retired parole officer, two business owners, and a recent high school graduate are all vying for the fifth seat on San Clemente’s City Council.
The city will hold a special election on Nov. 5 to determine its newest member and fill the seat vacated due to the death of Mayor Steve Swartz in May. After the election, the council will appoint a new mayor from its existing members.
The council decided to hold a special election after a vote to appoint Gene James, the runner-up in the 2018 election, failed 2-2. The mail-in ballot election will cost the city between $164,831 and $193,565. The candidate who wins will serve the remainder of Swartz’s term, facing reelection in November 2020.
Voting registration for the election closed on Oct. 21. Mail-in ballots were recently sent out to registered voters. The ballots must be postmarked by the election date, Nov. 5, and arrive at the office of the Orange County Registrar of Voters no later than Nov. 8.
According to statements filed with the city clerk and the Orange County Registrar of Voters, the candidates for the position are:
James is a security consultant running for the second time. He holds the largest war-chest of all the candidates, tallying just shy of $22,300, for the reporting period that ended Sept. 21. He also spent more than the other candidates on his campaign, nearly $11,000. If elected, James aims to focus on public safety by adding deputies to the police force, as well as corralling the city budget because of projected deficits.
Hinkle graduated from San Clemente High School last year and is running for council for the second time. A marketing specialist, Hinkle has raised $19,128 while spending nearly $8,000 on his campaign. Hinkle is committed to preserving the city as a “beautiful beach town.” He has represented the city before when he briefed the United States Congress on removal of nuclear waste from the San Onofre power plant.
Coleman owns two businesses, including Classic Auto Sales, in San Clemente. His campaign funds have totaled approximately $3,630, with just over $3,000 coming from loans. Coleman aims to focus on improving the city’s quality of life by targeting the homeless and toll road issues. He also describes having 30 years of “out of the box” experience with legal issues and other governments around the country.
McLane is a retired parole officer. He describes himself as a self-made man who grew up in the South and has started three businesses in his life. He has tallied $1,500 for his cause, with more than $1,250 coming out of his own pocket. McLane cites his volunteer experience throughout his life as well as good ethics and personal standards as strengths for the campaign.
Selter, a small business owner who has been a resident for 10 years, is an advocate for financial security as well as city safety. She has raised $1,496 for her effort, a majority coming from outside contributions. During her time in San Clemente, she has been an active member of the community, volunteering for projects like “Clean up the Beach” and voter registration.