By Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan
I frequently refer to San Clemente as one big family. As we enjoy the holiday season, this is true more than ever. As beautiful, picturesque, and distinctive as our beach town is, it is we, the residents, who truly make this place home.
We have well-known families who have been here as institutions for generations and young families like mine who only moved here a few years ago to raise our kids in paradise. Each of us is drawn, as if by a spiritual force, to this shining city on a hill that soothes our soul and brightens our futures.
Our diversity of experience, young and old, of all ethnicities, with a shared love for our Spanish Village by the Sea, is our strength; it’s what allows us to thrive in a changing world.
In the last few years, we have seen our community discourse become more rancorous and polarized, reflecting the national tensions beyond our borders. Even traditional family gatherings have been increasingly edgy, often including whispered guidance for certain family members (e.g., “Uncle Bill”) to refrain from drinking too much and getting into politics, religion, and other charged topics.
These ever-present external divisions are why it’s so important for us San Clementeans to come together this holiday season to protect the city we love.
As we seat a new City Council, we face significant challenges: sand erosion, high costs of living, rising crime and homelessness, to name a few. We can only overcome these challenges if we work together toward our shared goal of keeping San Clemente a safe and prosperous city.
But that requires all of us in our San Clemente family to act for the greater good.
Just like we did at Thanksgiving dinner, and soon will do for Christmas, Chanukah, and other holiday celebrations, we must not judge each other for having opposing ideas to accomplish shared objectives, even though we may disagree about how to get the job done.
We can and should scrutinize the merit of different perspectives. But we must not attack the character or integrity of our fellow community members or city staff. As with our own families, we all deserve respect; in difficult times, we will need our neighbors to stand by us, and we cannot live our best lives without mutual support.
At upcoming events like Santa’s Village by the Sea, Puttin’ on the Glitz, and Chanukah on the Pier, I expect to see San Clementeans of all backgrounds joining hands to celebrate this holiday season.
I also expect to see San Clementeans of all political stripes to avoid the temptation to lob personal attacks and come together at City Council meetings, committee sessions, and town halls, to offer productive ideas on how our incredible city staff can improve our wonderful city.
After all, that’s what being part of a family is all about.
Chris Duncan is a councilmember who was elected in 2020 and is serving as mayor pro tem for 2022.