Council appoints residents to various city committees


During a June 11 meeting, City Council interviewed and appointed a number of residents to city committees.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

City Council made a number of appointments last week to various city committees

There were five applications submitted to the city for one open seat on the Environmental Sustainability Committee. Council interviewed Mary Clifford, Erin Fay and Les Miklosy (Paul Manina was not present and Laura Schneider was unable to attend). A majority of council appointed Clifford to ESC the for a two-year term effective immediately, through March 31, 2026.

Clifford, an 18-year resident and retired engineering technology expert, said she wants to see how they can embrace change and protect the environment for the next generation.

“That is where it’s really going to hit the hardest,” she said.

There are a number of big issues to focus on, Clifford added, including climate change, sea level rise and carbon emissions.

The group’s purpose is researching, reviewing and advising the council on items related to protecting the environment and improving the community’s future sustainability.

Council unanimously agreed to reduce the Housing and Human Services Committee from nine members and two alternates to seven members. At the January 19 council planning session there was a majority of support for a suggestion of reducing the size of the larger committees to no more than seven.

The focus of the committee is affordable housing, seniors, youth and the homeless, including affordable housing for city employees and artists, and educating the community on existing services, like homeless cold weather shelters.

Last week, there were six open positions and six applications received from current ESC incumbents. To stagger the terms, Cody Engle and Alexandra Jochim were appointed to terms effective immediately to run through June 30, 2025; while Joe Hanauer, Diane Harrison, Adam Redding-Kaufman and Mary Jo Winefordner have two-year terms, beginning July 1, through June 30, 2026.

Redding-Kaufman commented that he was honored for the opportunity to serve another year. He wrote in his application and emphasized in his interview that more people his age should be able to afford to live in Laguna Beach, and also volunteering to serve on the city committees.

“I feel very strongly that we need more younger people, even the generation below mine…serving on these committees and representing our town,” he said, and the 3 p.m. meeting time makes it challenging due to work schedules.

He asked the council to try and accommodate working professionals in the future.

A few changes were also made to the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee. EDPC is tasked with advising council on all matters pertaining to disaster prevention, planning and preparedness.

Councilmembers unanimously agreed to reduce the committee from eight members and one alternate to seven members. At last week’s meeting, the current EDPC alternate, Shelly Bennecke, was appointed as a two-year term as a full member, with the term ending June 30, 2026.

The terms of four members will expire on June 30 and only one re-applied along with one new applicant.

Bill Dodge (incumbent) and Jenn Sarnsen were unanimously appointed to two-year terms, also ending June 30, 2026.

Council also interviewed Steve Brown, Gregory Mech, Ryan Miller and Jeffrey Randolph for two open positions on the Audit Review and Investment Advisory Committee.

Both interviewees and councilmembers commended the expertise and impressive background of all the applicants for the committee.

“This is another example of how fortunate we are,” said Councilmember Bob Whalen. “The quality of applicants we get for these various committees is incredible.”

Mech (incumbent) and Brown were ultimately appointed for two-year terms, beginning July 1, through June 30, 2026.

There are great candidates here, said Mech, who added that he would love the opportunity to continue to work on the committee. He noted that his time served with the group has been a remarkable experience and he’s proud of what they’ve already accomplished.

After near 40 years in capital markets and the banking industry, a “near perfect” fit for the role on the committee, Brown said he wanted to give back to the community.

“I feel my experience could be beneficial to the City Council and the city of Laguna in a variety of ways,” he said.

The five-member committee participates in the selection of the city’s external financial auditors, reviews the results of the annual financial audit, reviews any internal control weaknesses in legal compliance issues identified in the course of the annual financial audit, reviews the expenditures of the Measure LL fund annually, reviews the city’s investment policy and recommends revisions as necessary, reviews the city treasures report and related factors, provides advice regarding potential investment strategies, participates in the selection of an outside auditor to perform annual reviews of investments and provides any necessary recommendations to council.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Laguna.

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