Signatures on nomination papers for a council candidate don't necessarily constitute endorsements, but they can suggest alliances among supporters and candidates, and hints to the policy direction the candidates themselves may pursue.
Many old hands in local politics signed petitions for certain of the five candidates for San Clemente City Council.
Incumbent Jim Dahl and challenger Mike Mortenson have so far been characterized as more pro-development than incumbent Robert "Bob" Baker 1 and challenger Chris Hamm.
(Challenger Robert "Bob" Baker 0, has since left the race, but it's too late to take his name off the ballot. The numbers will appear on the ballot to differentiate them)
Dahl and Mortenson have a number of overlapping signatures -- names recognizable from the pro-Measure A organization that fought unsuccessfully to allow the Playa del Norte retail-restaurant development at North Beach.
Mortenson and Dahl both received a signature from Kathryn Stovall Dennis, a local mover and shaker who ran the "Yes on A" campaign. Jeanne O'Grady also signed on with both men; she has been part of litigation against the city by the erstwhile North Beach developers Linda and Shaheen Sadeghi attempting to throw out the 2011 Measure A election results that prohibited the development.
Bill Hart and Christy MacBride Hart also signed on the nomination papers for both Dahl and Mortenson. Bill Hart is an appointed member of the city's Coastal Advisory and General Plan commissions who was also active in his support of the North Beach development.
Other overlapping supporters for Dahl and Mortenson include Ken Nielsen, Janis Hartju, John Tengdin and A. John Dorey.
Mortenson and longtime incumbent Dahl have established themselves as running against the more anti-development incumbent Bob Baker, judging from comments in a recent forum.
Dahl, as well as Nielsen, MacBride Hart, Hartju and O'Grady's former husband Rick Stephens signed the challenger Baker 0's papers. Incumbent Baker 1 points to this fact as more evidence that his challenger's candidacy was a ploy.
Dahl, a retired firefighter who has been on the San Clemente City Council for about 15 years, is a popular candidate and consistently one of the highest vote getters.
According to Dahl's nomination papers, he's got lots of support from within the city's staff. City Manager George Scarborough; Assistant City Manager and Treasurer T. Pall Gudgeirsson; Public Information Officer Laura Ferguson and staffer Laura Campagnolo all signed to nominate Dahl.
The incumbent Baker and Chris Hamm recently kicked off their campaigns at the same event at Irons in the Fire restaurant. Baker said he sees eye to eye with Hamm on a lot of issues, but said he's not running with Hamm officially.
Similarly, Dahl said he's not running together with Mortenson, though he agrees with much of his political philosophy.
Theoretically, either or both of the incumbents or any of the challengers could lose in the race for the two council seats involved in the election.
Many of incumbent Baker's signators aren't immediately recognizable by this author as being heavily involved in local politics, with the exception being former Councilman G. Wayne Eggleston, who also signed Hamm's papers.
No signatures of David Clegg's supporters were immediately recognizable by the author of this article, either. Clegg also did not show at the council forum held in the Shorecliffs community Sept. 20, but two major debates remain; one Thursday hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the other in October hosted by the San Clemente Historical Society.
CORRECTION: Because of a reporting error, the relationship between Stephens and O'Grady was misstated in an earlier version of this article. Patch regrets the mistake.