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By Jim Shilander

Orange County Supervisor Pat Bates announced at Thursday’s meeting of the San Clemente Exchange Club that she will be running for the California State Senate in 2014, when her term on the board of supervisors expires.

Bates, the first Mayor of Laguna Niguel, has represented the fifth district on the Board of Supervisors since her election in 2006. She has also served for four terms in the State Assembly. The 36th Senate District, which includes San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point, runs south as far as Encinitas and as far north as Rancho Santa Margarita.

Bates said her previous experience in Sacramento, as well as her experience locally, made her believe she would be a good candidate for a spot in the State Senate.

“I will take the cry of these communities back to Sacramento,” Bates said. The state, she said, had instituted regulations that made things more difficult for local communities to take steps to protect the environment. Bates noted that she had chaired a number of countywide committees and efforts that dealt with environmental quality, and said she would bring that expertise to the Senate. Other state initiatives, such as the elimination of redevelopment agencies, had limited the ability of communities to incentivize developers to construct affordable housing, she said.

Bates also expressed optimism about the completion of the La Pata extension project.

“We are going to break ground in the summer of 2013,” Bates said confidently. The county, she explained, had identified two sources of revenue to close the $9 million gap that has kept the project from completion. The funds being targeted, she said, were coming from Measure M2, as well as from federal funds through the state’s allocation. Some of that funding is prioritized for evacuation routes, she explained. La Pata has been classified as such a route.

“It’s an Orange County lead project,” Bates said. “It’s been the project on everybody’s mind.”

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