City won’t endorse Hunt if Carona steps down

This was in the OCRegister Wednesday.  With all of the holiday activity we missed it.

At any rate, let us know what you think about this turn of events.


San Clemente letter that had been drafted to Board of Supervisors will not be sent.

SAN CLEMENTE – The City Council backed off Tuesday night on a plan to endorse former sheriff’s Lt. Bill Hunt for Orange County sheriff if indicted Sheriff Mike Carona steps down permanently.

On a 5-0 vote, the City Council chose not to send a letter asking the Orange County Board of Supervisors to consider appointing Hunt if the sheriff’s job becomes vacant. Councilman Wayne Eggleston had asked two weeks ago that the letter be drafted and placed on the council’s agenda.

San Clemente is a sheriff’s contract city. Hunt was chief of police services in the coastal community from 2003-2006 until he ran for sheriff against Carona last June and lost. Carona then placed Hunt on administrative leave and ordered an investigation into statements Hunt had made during the campaign. In December, Hunt was demoted to deputy but he chose to retire rather than accept the demotion.

Tuesday night, council members discussed the proposed Hunt endorsement letter but opted not to send it after hearing a request from Asst. Sheriff Jack Anderson.

Anderson appeared before the council, asking the council not to endorse anybody. He said the investigation had concluded that demotion was proper, and for the Board of Supervisors to appoint Hunt sheriff would be counter to the county’s legal defense of a lawsuit that Hunt has filed contesting the demotion.

“You live in one of the safest communities in our nation,” Anderson told council members. “What law enforcement services is the council not receiving that warrants this letter? How will this letter benefit the residents of San Clemente? If you’re pleased with the law enforcement services being provided to the city, it is inappropriate to undermine the men and women of the Orange County Sheriffs Department in furthering a political agenda that does not in any way directly benefit the city.”

Eggleston said he didn’t know how the letter would undermine sheriff’s personnel. “They do a terrific job,” he said. He said Hunt did a terrific job in San Clemente and he will personally support Hunt for sheriff if Carona steps down and there is an election. But he joined other council members in withdrawing the letter.

“It’s electioneering,” said Councilman Steve Knoblock, who said he knows and likes Hunt personally but feels the council should not make a political endorsement of anyone.

Mayor Jim Dahl and Councilman Joe Anderson agreed. Councilwoman Lori Donchak had no comment.

Dahl said it’s a political situation and the council should hold off, with council members free to do whatever they want as individuals.

“The campaign has begun,” Dahl said.