Featured Image: The City Council on Tuesday night, Dec. 6, appoints Chris Duncan (center) to serve as mayor of San Clemente for 2023, replacing Councilmember Gene James (left) in the leadership role. Councilmember Steve Knoblock (right) will serve as mayor pro tem for the upcoming year. Photo: C. Jayden Smith
By C. Jayden Smith
The onset of the San Clemente City Council’s meeting on Tuesday night, Dec. 6, was all pomp and circumstance, as it parted ways with outgoing members, welcomed newly elected officials and decided its leadership going into the New Year.
Chris Duncan, who served as mayor pro tem this past year, moved up to the mayoral role after a 3-2 decision, with Councilmember Gene James—the immediate past mayor—and newly elected Councilmember Victor Cabral opposed.
Duncan referred to his new opportunity as the “honor of a lifetime,” saying he looked forward to engaging in polite yet vigorous discussions that would achieve positive results for residents.
“That’s what y’all deserve, and that’s what we’re going to deliver, if I have anything to say about it,” Duncan said.
A 4-1 vote—with James opposed—placed Councilmember Steve Knoblock in the mayor pro tem position. Knoblock won his bid for reelection, securing the third open seat in a narrow victory over candidate Donna Vidrine.
Newly appointed City Clerk Laura Campagnolo swore in the new councilmembers, Cabral and Mark Enmeier, and the incumbent Knoblock after declaring the November election results. Cabral finished with 10,227 votes, Enmeier with 9,823 votes, and Knoblock with 9,240 votes. Vidrine finished with 9,217 votes, 23 fewer than Knoblock.
Each thanked the individuals, loved ones, and organizations that supported their campaign efforts and expressed their eagerness to serve San Clemente residents.
“We’re all supported by different organizations with different objectives,” Knoblock said. “But we all have one common theme and one common objective, and that’s (seeking) the welfare of our city, the benefit of our city, and the protection of our beautiful town.”
Outgoing Councilmembers Laura Ferguson and Kathy Ward, who both opted not to seek reelection after serving for one and two terms, respectively, were honored with commendations on Tuesday night.
Ferguson, though absent, asked Knoblock to read a note she had submitted regarding her wish to be present Tuesday night, her gratitude and pride in accomplishments made while serving the city, and her advice to the new body of councilmembers.
“I encourage the new council to make transparency a priority, as government must always be accountable to the people,” she wrote. “Transparency is absolutely necessary to guarantee good government.”
Ward commended the actions of all those who have maintained the city’s integrity since its founding in 1928, thanked city staff for their work and help, as well as thanking her family, including her husband.
“To the council, and to the new councilmembers, congratulations,” said Ward. “I want the council to be successful, because we all need you to be successful, now that I’m a resident, too.”
Duncan also thanked James for his service as mayor during 2022.
“It’s been of year of real success,” Duncan said.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.