The Laguna Beach Police Employees' Assn. announced Monday its endorsement of Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger and Planning Commissioner Robert Whalen for City Council.

Rollinger and Whalen impressed the association with their commitment to support public safety as a major city priority and to working closely with all members of the Police Department to further public and officer safety, according to a statement issued by association President Larry Bammer.

"Verna has a good campaign financial base and is a very strong candidate. She recognizes that foot patrol downtown makes people feel safer — with no coaching on our part," Bammer said Tuesday.

"She showed concern about public safety and staffing levels. Plus, she is a public employee on the same pension plan as some members of the association and feels we should be compensated appropriately.

"She also said she wants to meet with us to be better informed."

Whalen was not as well-known to association members, Bammer said, but they were impressed by the broad-based support he has drawn.

"He is not as familiar with public safety issues, but he is smart and a quick study," Bammer said.

"We think he can bring to fruition the Village Entrance to Laguna Beach, which will help Laguna and the police if we can get congestion down."

The vetting of all "serious candidates" included extensive interviews, according to Bammer.

"It was a difficult decision," said Bammer. "Both Mayor Jane Egly and former Council Member Steve Dicterow also have impressive credentials and substantial track records of service to the city, but Whalen and Rollinger were the clear choices."

Dicterow said Tuesday at the Village Laguna candidates' forum that he was disappointed in not getting the endorsement many thought was a shoe-in, but it would not affect his commitment to public safety.

"We look forward to making the public aware of our endorsement through all means available to us during the campaign," Bammer said. "More important, after the election, we look forward to partnering with all of our council members, City Manager John Pietig, Chief Paul Workman and the entire police command staff to keep our city a safe place in which to live, work, do business and vacation."

The Orange County Democratic Party Central Committee also announced its endorsement of Rollinger. The endorsement came at its Aug. 27 meeting.

Candidates who did not file questionnaires in time for the meeting may still file for endorsement. Additional candidate endorsements will be considered at the next Central Committee meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 24, at Carpenters Union Hall, 1918 W. Chapman, Orange.

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Ballot positions

Whalen will top the ballot for the Laguna Beach City Council. Dicterow got the No. 2 spot, followed by Rollinger, Robert Ross and Egly.

Positions are drawn by the secretary of state.

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