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Pacifica City Council Election: Ervin, Nihart, O'Neill Win

Out of the seven city council candidates that ran in Pacifica, Karen Ervin, Mary Ann Nihart and Michael O'Neill won the three open seats.

Pacifica voters on Tuesday cast their ballots in a complicated two-tiered city council race and re-elected a councilwoman and welcomed two newcomers to the five-member council.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, incumbent Mary Ann Nihart and former Pacifica School District Trustee Karen Ervin took the most votes in the race for the two four-year term council seats.

Pacifica School Board member Michael O'Neill won the most votes in the race to fill the spot left by Jim Vreeland, who resigned earlier this year for health reasons. O’Neill will serve a two-year term.

In all, 13,485 voters turned out to the polls for the election.

Nihart and Ervin were camped out at Ervin’s home throughout the night with family, friends and food, anxiously waiting for the polling numbers to come in.

As soon as the numbers started being reported, they were constantly checking the computer between breaks spent mingling with their guests and watching the presidential election on a TV in the family room.

Nihart said she already felt like a winner even before the night was over because, outside of the election, she had just received some good news about her career. On Monday, she got a promotion at her job. On Wednesday, she will be getting a presitigious award from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.

She won’t be resting on her laurels, though.

With Pacifica's financial sustainability, economic development and environmental protection as major issues for the next council, Nihart said, some difficult decisions are going to have to be made.

“It's harder when you have a track record,” she said. “But I’ll try to explain my decisions” so that everyone can be on the same page.

She added: “I’m just excited that we’ll have new blood, we can move forward and that we’ll have thoughtful, logical people like Karen to serve with.”

Ervin, who received the most votes out of all of the candidates with 7,663, said she was humbled by the election.

“This is the city I grew up in,” she said, “and it’s an incredible honor and privilege to serve it.”

Like Nihart, Ervin said the city has some difficult decisions to make soon.

“But if we all work together, we can start progressing toward a more stable future,” she said.

O’Neill decided to hang out at home with his family, friends and a small group of campaign supporters.

He said he was happy with the outcome of the election, and he felt like the results showed that residents had confidence in his experience on the school board and Planning Commission.

“I look forward to working with everybody over the next couple of years,” O’Neill said when reached by phone.

The other candidates in the election were: former Chamber of Commerce President Susan Vellone, Economic Development Coordinator Victor Spano, Planning Commissioner and attorney Richard Campbell, and former San Bruno Mayor Gary Mondfrans.

The results of their race can be found here:



28 of 28 Precincts Reporting (100%)

Pacifica City Council (four-year term) — vote for two




Karen Ervin



Mary Ann Nihart 



Susan Vellone




28 of 28 Precincts Reporting (100%)

Pacifica City Council (two-year term) — vote for one




Michael O'Neill



Victor Spano



Richard Campbell



Gary Mondfrans





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hutch November 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Remember, a vote for Campbell is a vote for Jim Vreelands failed environmental agenda. The no growthers have had 20 years to destroy us and they have done their job well. We are on the brink of bankruptcy and the last person we need on the city council is an Environmental Protection Agency lawyer. Rich Campbell is supported by the Sierra Club, the same chapter that wants to shut down Sharp Park Golf Course and turn it into a park. It's time for change. Vote for Mike O'Neill a proven leader who is dedicated to moving Pacifica forward. Encouraging new business, new development and increasing revenue so Pacifica is solvent and thriving.
Brainblaze Advertising November 07, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Rich Campbell is a great friend of mine. He has always given so much of himself for great causes. He will be a dedicated City Council Member who is unswayed by big money and untrustworthy developers. To see his full platform visit : http://campbellpacifica2012.com/
grace lee November 07, 2012 at 05:25 AM
I agree with Hutch about the failed economic environment in Pacifica. Victor Spano is an economic development guru and is worthy of consideration. O'Neill has been good on the school board but the city needs more than a bus driver to lead the council.
Keri Ayers November 07, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Congratulations Mary Ann, Karen and Mike! Thank you to Rich, Susan, Victor and Gary for a great campaign! We were lucky to have competitive candidates. Even though you didn't win a seat on City Council, we all know that you'll continue to serve Pacifica well in your future endeavors. Thank you for that.
LSW November 07, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I agree with Grace Lee. Victor Spano is the man who should have been selected to get this Council in gear and to get Pacifica on a path towards solvency. Don't give up Victor! I hope to see your name on the ballot in the next election.
The Pacifican November 07, 2012 at 04:56 PM
O'Neill has a history of service to this city and is highly tuned into the needs here, maybe if spano had lived here a little longer he would of done better. we don't need a career low level bureaucrat to come into this town.
Lionel Emde November 07, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I wish the new council good luck - they will need it. First thing to look at is whether and how fast the council reverses the illegal concealment of the consultant's report on potential police outsourcing. Second thing might be whether any ratepayer advocates were elected who will question and vote against any more garbage rate increases. This council will also be making the decision on the next garbage contract and when it will be put out to bid, so the ratepayers can get a better deal. And will this council question more closely and limit sewer tax increases? It's a black hole, down which taxpayer money is being thrown in a most opaque fashion. Challenging of top staffers by council people, and bringing decision making out into the light is essential. The backroom is the wrong place to do the public's business.
Pacifica Index November 07, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Lionel, Hold onto your hat and have a look at Item No. 11 on the Agenda for the upcoming Nov. 13 Council Meeting -- "Request for Proposals for an Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency Study of the Pacifica Police Department." It's another $35,000-$45,000 police services study. There's no indication at this time whether the City Manager will be the one contracting the services of the consultant or if it will be going through the City Attorney once again. For those readers who are unaware, the prior Police Services evaluation of May 2012 was never released to the public because of claimed Attorney/Client and Work Product privileges, due to the fact that the consultant was hired by the City Attorney and not the City Manager. These particular exemptions from disclosure could not have been claimed if the City Manager had contracted with the consultant for the report.
hutch November 07, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Brainblaze said "Rich Campbell - unswayed by big money and untrustworthy developers" You do understand that we have had 20 years of people like Campbell giving developers a hard time. Big money? I think we'll take all we can get. Finally we are rid of these environmental extremists that have bankrupted our city. What a great day.
Katie Womack November 08, 2012 at 02:11 AM
I'm so excited about this new City Council and looking forward to a great term ahead! All three of these wonderful people are bright, savvy, and more than worthy of representing Pacifica's best interests.
Fiscal Specialist November 08, 2012 at 02:23 AM
I also agree with Hutch and Grace Lee. Pacifica does not need a Nurse Practitioner, Research Associate or a School Board Trustee to take care of Pacifica's finance. Are any of these people CPA's. Pacifica needs to generate revenue. Victor Spano has the education and qualifications to do that. Pacifica is going bankrupted. Hotels will not survive if stores and restaurants are closing down and the only attraction here is the beach and parks. What's going on with Pacifica Police Dept.? Crime is going up here in Pacifica. Did anyone on the City Council look at the neighboring Police Department's about outsourcing? Did anyone read the Official Voter Information Pamphlet's or research these Candidates?
Former Financial Analyst November 10, 2012 at 03:46 AM
To answer the "Fiscal Specialist's" last query with regard to researching the candidates: YES, I did do my homework on the candidates. And, as a result, i, too, voted for Victor Spano. The feeling of dread that i got after learning one of the most qualified candidates, Victor Spano, an educated candidate who actually specializes in Economic Development, did not get elected was similar to the feeling of dread I got when Measure L (the measure which would have resulted in a luxury , revenue-generating, development/project in our barren quarry) was defeated. Our city needs help with filling our empty storefronts and approving projects which would bring much needed revenue and pride to our beautiful city. (Disclosure: I do not know Victor personally)
Lionel Emde November 14, 2012 at 07:26 PM
The city engaged in illegal acts, i.e., improper posting of a closed session meeting, improper consideration of a consultant's report that should have been public the minute it was presented to council members. Then they may have illegally decided in the backroom that "Whoops! Can't outsource the cops now!" The city manager wouldn't tell Patch's reporter who decided on the ending of the process. It would be a Marx Bros. movie of mishap, except we're talking about public safety and open government going down the toilet. Will any advocates of open government be on the new council?


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