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2006:Year of immigration debate

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December 30, 2006

It seemed that at least a half a dozen elections were held in 2006, but there were only three: a special primary for the 35th District of the state Senate, the June statewide primary and the November general election.

Only three candidates were on the April ballot for the Senate seat that represents Newport-Mesa — two Republicans and a Democrat — but it was a bitter fight for the GOP.

Then-Assemblyman Tom Harman squeaked by Dana Point City Councilwoman Diane Harkey to win by 236 votes — less than one percentage point.

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Although some of the local officeholders changed after the Nov. 7 election, most voters in both Costa Mesa and Newport Beach seem to have cast their ballots largely for the status quo.

The biggest surprise was the resounding defeat of Measure X, a slow-growth initiative some considered draconian that tried to capitalize on people's discontent with traffic and fear of high-rise developments.

Newport-Mesa's City Council races were both costly and nasty. Newport candidates broke all previous records for fundraising.

Voters rejected the two candidates endorsed by the Greenlight residents group, which was also behind Measure X. Despite earlier complaints about an incestuous system of appointments to fill council vacancies, all three appointed incumbents — District 7 Councilman Keith Curry, District 4 Councilwoman Leslie Daigle and District 5 Councilman Ed Selich — won.

Other winners were Don Webb, who ran uncontested for a second term in District 3; and Nancy Gardner, a newcomer who unseated District 6 Councilman Dick Nichols.

The diciest race appeared to be the one between Daigle and Santa Ana Heights activist Barbara Venezia. Daigle reportedly bullied a guard at Corona del Mar High School while using the track, an allegation she denied, and Venezia dropped out of the race after her financial interest in a trash hauler that does business in Newport was questioned.

In Costa Mesa, the real battle was planning commissioner Bruce Garlich and former Councilman Mike Scheafer versus Mayor Allan Mansoor and his running mate, parks commissioner Wendy Leece.

Everyone said they wanted to make the city safer and to find more sports fields for local youth — the real difference was where candidates stood on having local police enforce immigration law. Mansoor spearheaded the idea, while Garlich and Scheafer said federal authorities best handle immigration.

Voters ultimately gave Mansoor the most votes, with Leece coming in second.

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