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Environmentalist To Run For Mayor Of Imperial Beach

Serge Dedina, an environmentalist, of Imperial Beach announced plans to run for Mayor of Imperial Beach Wednesday.

Photo credit: Jeff Wallis

Serge Dedina surfing south of the Imperial Beach Pier in 2011.

A Candidate Intention Statement was submitted to City Clerk Jacqueline Hald last week. No other candidates have filed paperwork to state their intention to run for mayor, Hald said.

The 49-year-old former lifeguard grew up surfing in Imperial Beach. In 2000 he co-founded conservation and environmental group WILDCOAST. As a teenager he was appointed to the Youth Advisory Committee by then Mayor Brian Bilbray.

"This is the city I grew up in and where I hope to retire and die someday," he said.

He plans to run for mayor in November because he believes IB is "ripe for leadership change."

"I think there's a desire among people in the community to have someone be mayor that is passionate about living in Imperial Beach and transparency in local government," Dedina said.

”Under the leadership of Mayor Jim Janney, we have the lowest number of citizen advisory committees of any coastal city in San Diego County. This has resulted in a situation in which community residents have become increasingly isolated from the decisions made on our behalf, with little opportunity to weigh in on how we plan for and invest in the future of Imperial Beach," he said.

Dedina said his campaign will focus on open government, safety and restoring a sense that all IB neighborhoods matter, not just those along the beach.

"People care passionately about the community and making Imperial Beach better for kids and families especially in the last year with the Sports Park debacle," he said. "This is a campaign about getting everybody back on the Imperial Beach train. One family, one Imperial Beach. We need to bring that spirit of caring back to Imperial Beach."

Dedina said he did not intend for his announcement to coincide with the opening of IB's new 78-room hotel Pier South Resort but declared early in order to spend months leading up to Election Day listening to people who live in Imperial Beach.

He is author of the books Saving the Gray Whale: People, Politics and Conservation in Baja California and Wild Sea: Eco Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias.

Janney has been mayor of Imperial Beach since 2006 and intends to run for a third term of office in November. IB Patch reached Janney by phone Wednesday on the roof of Pier South Resort, a project that received $7 million from the now defunct Imperial Beach Redevelopment Agency.

If elected in November Janney will become the longest-serving mayor in the history of a city established in 1956.

Janney believes he has been a good leader for Imperial Beach.

"I've always stressed that there is more to Imperial Beach than just the beach. There's a huge population on the east side of town that we have to consider all the time," Janney said.

An effort to make playgrounds at Central and Oneonta elementary schools public park space last year was led by Janney. Street improvements and private investment on 13th Street are further evidence the city tries to help more than shoreline citizens.

"I think there's always rook for improvement but we have to balance that concept of classic Southern California town. I think change is something we have to manage and we don't want a lot of change but we want to some for lifestyle, to improve the lives of people who live here," Janney said.

Disclosure: Imperial Beach Patch paid Serge Dedina as a contributing writer from October 2010 to October 2013. His Southwest Surf column covered topics of environmentalism and surfing.

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