December 13, 2011
There's now an official contest for Carmel's upcoming mayoral election in April. When restaurateur Rich Pepe formally announced his candidacy last week in an email titled, "World-Renowned Chef Seeks To Follow In Clint Eastwood’s Footsteps," he wasted no time in swiping at Councilmember Jason Burnett, who is widely expected to seek higher office eventually.
“I’m not a career politician. I haven’t spent years in government service and I’m not looking to use this position as a stepping stone to higher office," Pepe said. "I’m here, walking the streets of downtown, talking with the residents and business owners every day, and I have the understanding and experience to be an effective leader. I’m here for the long haul."
Burnett, who announced his plans to run for mayor in October, says he committed during the 2010 campaign to serve Carmel for a full term, though not necessarily without running for higher office within city government.
Pepe, whose businesses include Carmel's Little Napoli, Vesuvio, Carmel Bakery and Pepe Winery, claims his business acumen makes him best equipped to govern the city.
He may yet have competition from another businessperson without a legislative resume. Two years ago, high-end Sotheby's realtor Adam Moniz narrowly lost to outgoing mayor Sue McCloud, who says she plans to retire. Moniz had been planning to run again for mayor, but indicates now he may be dropping his bid for that position, and instead may run for council.
"To me, a title is not the important thing here," Moniz says. "What’s important to me is my commitment to serve the community. I couldn’t care less about a title."
Moniz will launch his campaign—for council or mayor—with a video announcement Jan. 1 on his website.
If Pepe and Burnett face off, there will be less lapdog imagery than last election, but Burnett's new baby may keep the Carmel campaign cuteness factor alive.
Above, Moniz campaigning in 2010.