Mancuso focuses on issues in 2018

By BARBARA DIAMOND

This is the fourth in a series of one-on-one interviews with City Council candidates, speaking for and about themselves.

Judie Mancuso is making her second bid for a seat on the City Council. This election will be different.

Mancuso was seriously angry in 2016. 

“I didn’t like anyone on the council and with two incumbents running for the two open seats, I felt there was no chance for anyone else,” said Mancuso. “They were in the drivers’ seat and the rest of us weren’t even in the back seat – we were in the trunk.”

Mancuso is now focused on issues rather than personalities. 

“I am more thoughtful now,” said Mancuso. “With three seats open and only two incumbents running: Now, I have a chance to win – it’s for real and I am willing to work with anyone elected, as well as the sitting council members.

“When I was appointed to the California Veterinary Medical Board, which has control of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and hospitals, everyone on the board was a stranger. All they knew about me was that I was animal rights advocate. But before I knew it we were persuading one another – not necessarily to vote the same way – but without acrimony.”

The lesson learned was the value of bringing stakeholders together, one of the personal qualities Mancuso considers essential for a seat on the dais. 

“I am a leader, persuasive, but I am a good listener,” she said. “I try to see everyone’s perspective and in trying to find a solution for the majority.” 

Mancuso focuses on issues

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Submitted photo

Judie Mancuso

Currently, project and policy decisions are taking too long to come to fruition Mancuso said. 

“The council does a lot of bobbing and weaving, but there is a paralysis in making decisions,” she said. “If you can’t reach consensus, pick a side and run with it. We need to choose. If you spend $500,000 [for consultants], the city ought to be able to make a decision from that. If you pay out that kind of money and can’t come up with a plan, you are choosing the wrong [consultants]. 

 “I am a decision-maker, and I know how to execute and get things done. I am a doer.” 

Mancuso knows her way around state bureaucracy, which she believes is an asset. Besides the appointment to the state Veterinary Medical Board, Mancuso is the chief executive officer of three nonprofits, one of which is devoted to legislation. 

She said she has successfully worked on some of the most complicated legislation in Sacramento and has gotten landmark decisions signed into law by Governors Brown and Schwarzenegger.

Currently, she has sponsored Senate Bill 1249, which requires all testing for beauty and personal hygiene products in California to be “animal cruelty free.” 

The bill is being reviewed by the Assembly. If approved it goes back to the Senate to be delivered to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

Another of the nonprofits she sponsored is personalized license plates featuring dog portraits, designed by her close friend, actor Pierce Brosnan.   

Mancuso was also a leader in passage of legislation that prohibits the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores.

 “If I can accomplish those things, I certainly can take on the Historic Preservation Ordinance,” she said.

After talking to her neighbors and others, she has reservations about the ordinance as proposed by the city.

“We should have peace of mind and the quality of life we bought into,” Mancuso said. 

However, her personal priority is the protection of the ocean and open space.

”I am an environmentalist,” she said. 

Mancuso supports the Laguna Canyon Foundation’s recommendations for the Caltrans project on Laguna Canyon Road: Keep the undergrounded utilities poles within the proposed shoulder of the highway and shorten or eliminate the extension of the merging lane that includes the access to the Wilderness Park.

She said she would not oppose undergrounding the rest of the road, but only on a pay-as-you-go project, without 25 years of debt as the City Council has put on the ballot. 

“I am fiscally responsible,” Mancuso said. “I pay my bills on time. I am not about debt. I would like to see the city run the way I run my checkbook and stay within its means. 

“We need an independent auditor to take a really close look at where the city is and where it is going in the future and if we are on the right path.” 

 In any case, fire mitigation measures should take precedence over undergrounding, she said.

“We should make a list of everything we can do to mitigate fire and a list of how much it costs and then prioritize,” said Mancuso. “If undergrounding poles are on the list, then do it.” 

Laguna’s homeless are also a Mancuso priority. She said the city must tap into county, state and federal funding. 

“We need to know what resources are out there and apply for and get the money,” said Mancuso. 

However, parking and traffic are still the number one issue with residents, said Mancuso, who moved to Laguna in 1995. 

“When I go away and then come back home, I feel like home is better than anywhere else in the world,” said Mancuso. “That is why I am running.”