Volume 15, Issue 76  |  September 22, 2023SubscribeAdvertise

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Barbara’s Column

Plan for candidates’ forums


A candidates’ forum in Laguna Beach tends to reflect the priorities of the group hosting it. Questions about development or how and where to provide more parking and how to pay for it might be posed at every forum, but the thrust of the questions will differ from group to group. 

Village Laguna was founded on the successful battle in the 1970s to limit the height of buildings in town and to this day does not favor large developments. The questions vetted and introduced by Ann Christoph and David Raber for the organization’s August 24 forum concentrated on village character and prerogatives of residents over visitors. There was little or no attention given to questions about public safety, the economy, or specific Laguna Beach neighborhoods, all of which will be addressed in upcoming forums. 


The Canyon Alliance of Neighborhood Defense Organizations (CANDO) will host a virtual candidates’ forum at 6 p.m. on September 24.

“We care about issues in the downtown, but those will get handled at other forums, so we will focus on issues specific to the canyon,” said Penelope Milne, CANDO president, who will moderate the forum. 

CANDO’s avowed mission is to preserve the rural, low-density, and small-scale character of Laguna Canyon; protect the integrity of the unique neighborhood, and to ensure the safety of the Laguna Canyon Corridor. The group advocates for “judicious, long-term planning for this biologically diverse gateway” into Laguna Beach. 

Canyon residents are asked to submit questions for the forum to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“We will look for themes and formulate questions from that,” said Milne. 

The Zoom link is available at www.lbcando.org

CANDO’s forum will be live streamed on Facebook also, on the group’s page.

Greater Laguna Beach GOP

Greater Laguna Beach GOP had requested the use of the Council Chambers for a forum on September 24, but plans were changed when the group was informed of the CANDO forum, to which all of the City Council candidates were pledged.

Subsequently the group reserved the chamber from 6 to 9 p.m. on September 30. 

“We would like to have all the candidates live in the chamber, but there cannot be a live audience,” said Jennifer Zeiter, president of the conservative group.

Public safety, development, and property rights are among the topics the candidates will be asked to address, she said. 

“Some answers will be limited to yes or no responses, rather than political statements,” said Zeiter.

GLB GOP supports the #WalkAway movement, encouraging voters to “walk away from the radical left and those politicians who support far left agendas,” Zeiter stated in an email to Stu News.

The local group, which is not affiliated with Laguna Beach Republicans, supports Michelle Steel for Congress, Diane Dixon for the State Assembly, and the re-election of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence

For more information on the GLB GOP, visit www.glbgop.com.

Laguna Beach Arts Alliance

A virtual forum will be hosted by the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance on September 26. The time and date will be announced in a press release in the near future, said Alliance Treasurer Wayne Baglin

The Alliance, formed in January 2002, is a partnership of 22 Laguna Beach-based organizations. The Alliance’s mission is advocate for the arts, promote collaboration and networking among artists and arts organizations, and ensure the inclusion of the Arts as essential to all city planning.

South Laguna Civic Association

The South Laguna Civic Association has set a tentative date of October 5 for its forum. Laguna Beach architect and South Laguna resident James Henry will moderate.

A list of questions and the rationale for them will be submitted to the candidates in advance of the forum, but they will not be advised which of the questions will be asked.

Topics will include tourist impacts, ocean water quality, community and public safety, and community participation in land use issues. 

A fifth topic might be added, said John Thomas, a contributor to the questions at past forums. Response time in the past has ranged from 15 seconds to three minutes. 

“We have tried questions with yes and no responses, but the candidates didn’t like it,” said Thomas.

And some of them didn’t stick to the format.

The nonprofit association was formed in 1948, almost 40 years before the area from Nyes Place and past Three Arch Bay was annexed by Laguna Beach. 

For more information on viewing the forum, visit www.southlaguna.org

KX FM and Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce

Radio station KX FM 104.7 and the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce will present a virtual forum at 5:30 p.m. on October 9, accessed by listening to the radio station, by watching on Cox channel 852, or via Zoom (the link will be announced).

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce does not endorse political candidates. The purpose of this forum is for public information, according to the chamber website.

Members of the chamber and the public will hear the positions taken by the candidates on issues facing the local business community.

Laguna Beach Pride 365! Board President Craig Cooley and KX FM Music Director Alyssa Hayek will be the moderators; KX FM Founder Tyler Russell McCusker and Chamber Chief Executive Officer Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold will be the hosts.

For more information or to submit a question, email Hornbuckle-Arnold at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sponsors of the forum include Julie Laughton Design Build, WealthWise Financial Services, Mike Johnson Group, and Liberate Laguna. 

There don’t appear to be as many forums as have been held in the recent past – 11 in 2018. Top of the World Neighborhood Association won’t be hosting one for the second election cycle. 

“We didn’t do one two years ago,” said Gene Felder, a TOWNA board member for 30 years. “Candidates felt there were too many.” 

The Laguna Beach Woman’s Club is closed due to COVID-19 and no events are being held there, said President Kitty Malcolm

However, if more forums are planned or more information about those already announced becomes available, Stu News will keep its readers informed.

Contributions to this column are welcomed. Submit suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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