Oct 4, 2011 9:52 PM by Ariel Wesler

Santa Maria councilmembers kick off campaigns for mayor

Two city councilmembers in Santa Maria have announced they're throwing their hats into the race for mayor. Alice Patino and Mike Cordero would like to be the city's next leader.

The news came just hours after Mayor Larry Lavagnino announced yesterday he will not seek re-election. Lavagnino has been mayor since 2003 and Tuesday he made it clear who he is supporting.

We're more than a year away from the election next November, but it's going to be a long road for both candidates as they try to convince voters they are the best one for the job.

The race for mayor in Santa Maria pits former teacher Alice Patino against former cop Mike Cordero. It's the first time two councilmembers have run against each other for mayor in at least 20 years.

"I believe we need to continue to be a city that is fiscally responsible, a city that doesn't spend more than it's revenue," Patino said during a press conference Tuesday.

"I'm here to serve the people in the community, to do the best that I can to meet their needs," Cordero said.

Patino already has the support of the mayor, who's also a longtime friend. She's got more experience on the city council, having served since 1999. Cordero was elected to the council in 2008, but previously spent 36 years with the city as a police officer. Public safety and gang crime are key issues for both candidates.

In the short term, I think you need boots on the ground. You need police officers in cars, you need detectives," Cordero said.

"Faith-based community used to take care of a lot of these social problems and it seems like government has pulled that away from them. I think we need to rely more on them," Patino said.

On the economic front, both candidates want to make the city more business friendly to create jobs.

"We need to support the Chamber of Commerce in their push to buy local," Patino said.

Cordero wants to focus on restoring city jobs that provide crucial services to the people of Santa Maria.

"Our personnel per capita is lower than most any other city than I know of on the Central Coast and while that can be a good thing, we also have to concern ourself with the fact that we have a service to deliver," Cordero said.

Now, they each hope their campaigns will deliver enough votes.

Patino is running from what's called a "safe seat." Since her term isn't up until 2014, she would retain her council seat even if she loses. Cordero's council term is up next year, so he is risking it all for the city's top spot.

If you'd like to learn more about these two candidates, just click below.

Mike Cordero and Alice Patino


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