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Pot not the only issue, candidate says

Sue Lester, who owns a medicinal marijuana dispensary, says city finances and affordable housing must be addressed.

October 21, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — While City Council hopeful Sue Lester might have been labeled as a one-issue candidate, she said there are many reasons why she's qualified to help run the city.

That one issue was medical marijuana. Lester, 43, owns a dispensary in the city and the fight to keep it and others open first drew her to council meetings.

"Once I got to the meetings, and I started listening to everything that was going on, I continued to go because I wanted to know more about the city that I had a business in and I wanted to live in," Lester said.

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But she argues that there's more to her background that many people don't know about.

"Based on my work experience, loss-prevention, operations, system management and human resources, I have a very special set of skills that would be conducive to the council and to the citizens of this community," she said.

Although she began attending council meetings because of medical marijuana, she kept going for other reasons.

What she saw during the council meetings, she said, got her thinking.

Like when she noticed some of the council members weren't paying attention to residents during the public comments period.

"You might not agree with what somebody has to say, or you might not like it or you might not even like that person for whatever reason, but as an elected council member, it is your job to listen to your community that elected you and hear what they have to say and make decisions on their behalf," she said.

Then there were issues she didn't agree with.

While Lester is for affordable housing, she didn't understand why the council majority approved a senior housing project next door to a popular night club.

"I think it's ridiculous," she said of housing planned for the area near the Shark Club. "I think you're putting the seniors in a situation where they may be caused grief, and you're putting the business owner who's been there for over 20 years in a situation where they might be receiving noise complaints."

She also thinks she can lend a hand to the city by analyzing its finances and helping think of new ways to attract business investment.

Lester, who is originally from Brea, is a newcomer to the city she seeks to represent. She has been renting a room on the Eastside since July, saying that frugality has always helped her make the right financial decisions.

She said she couldn't buy a house in Costa Mesa because she invested in her marijuana dispensary, Herban Elements Inc.

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