12:15 PM PDT on Friday, May 14, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Loma Linda voters will go to the polls June 8 to fill two seats on the City Council in the latest chapter of an ongoing battle to control the future direction of the town.

Five candidates will appear on the ballot: incumbent Robert Ziprick, former councilman Robert Christman, collection agency account executive Verne Miller, dental school executive Ronald Dailey and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. Phillip Dupper.

Two sitting council members whose names won’t be on the ballot, Ovidiu Popescu and Rhodes “Dusty” Rigsby, have a big stake in the outcome.

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Popescu, a member of the growth-control group Save Loma Linda, and his political ally, Rigsby, have formed a voting bloc on the council, occasionally supported by Mayor Stan Brauer, in opposition to Ziprick, Christman and Councilman Floyd Petersen on issues ranging from growth to red-light cameras at four Loma Linda intersections.

Petersen, who survived a challenge from Save Loma Linda forces four years ago, decided not to run for a fifth term.

Christman, who was swept out of office two years ago when Popescu and Rigsby won four-year terms, is trying to win back his seat.

He said he will try to convince voters in the city of 22,000 people that the council has been stagnant in the past two years.

Ziprick said Popescu and Rigsby, while campaigning for growth control in the past, recently supported the Redevelopment Agency’s development of three-story apartments on Poplar Street that represent the densest housing in Loma Linda’s history.

Popescu defended the development, saying the city is required by law to fill a deficit in housing for low- and moderate-income residents.

June 8 battle lines are being drawn.

Rigsby and Popescu have endorsed Dailey and Dupper.

Dailey said he has no affiliation with the two councilmen, nor with Save Loma Linda. He said he welcomes their endorsement and agrees with some of their views on expanding the city tax base and transportation improvements, but insists that he will remain independent.

Dupper, who ran unsuccessfully two years ago, did not return phone calls seeking an interview.

In a candidate forum last week, he targeted criticism at Christman and Ziprick. He said efforts to transform the council “started two years ago and needs to continue.

“The old guard are tired,” he said. “They have been here too long. They spend too much time just sitting and doing nothing. We are going to ramp it up.”

Miller, a wild card in the race, said the city needs to attract more businesses and to plan for a mix of low- and high-density housing. He said he does not want to see houses too close together, but would have supported the now-defunct University Village and Orchard Park mixed use projects north of Mission Road.

Dailey said the city needs more upscale housing and more dense housing near transportation hubs.

Christman said accusations that he is pro-developers are “a Trojan horse” by Save Loma Linda.

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