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Imperial Beach, just north of the border and south of Coronado, has always resembled more of a small town in Oklahoma than a beach town in Southern California. My funky hometown is the last holdout of the South Bay cities whose leaders have resisted the demographic transformation that has changed Imperial Beach from its sleepy Dust Bowl roots into, well, a border beach town with one of the most culturally diverse populations in San Diego County.

Diane Rose , who this year ends eight years as Imperial Beach Mayor, focused her efforts as the top boss in IB on promoting good government and pushing through a fairly successful redevelopment effort (unfortunately without being able to resolve the chronic budget problems the city has faced for the last 20 years).

The current crop of IB Mayoral candidates includes Jim Janney, a local business owner and current City Council member, Bud Harbin, a former member of the Council and longtime former President of the Imperial Beach Sandcastle Committee, and Kourosh Hangafarin, who resigned in March 2005 as a San Diego Board of Port Commissioner (after only serving for a little more than a month). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Hangafarin resigned from the Port board after he became embroiled in controversy Feb. 25 when he went to Cuba and struck an unauthorized trade agreement with a Cuban import-export company on behalf of the port.

Hangafarin, who only recently moved to Imperial Beach, declared his candidacy for mayor as the ultimate outsider against veteran Imperial Beach leaders.

However, the dynamic of the race has changed somewhat after the three candidates appeared before the Central Committee of the Republican Party of San Diego County (RPSDC) on Monday night to answer questions and win an endorsement.

Instead of longtime IB residents Janney or Harbin receiving the support of the RPSDC, Hangafarin won a majority of the committee votes according to Jonathan Buettner, RPSDC Executive Officer. However, since the RPSDC bylaws establish that a candidate needs two thirds of committee member votes to receive an endorsement, all three candidates walked away empty handed (apparently Hangafarin was one vote short).

Instead of fighting over a meaningless blue ribbon, Janney, Harbin and Kourosh should take a leadership tip from Ari Gold and just hug it out. That way we can go back to spending our time scouring the web for the latest news on the Aquaman sequel, instead of being sucked into the endless vortex of small town politics.

SERGE DEDINA

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