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By Miriam Raftery

Photo: La Mesa City Council candidates Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, and Laura Lothian.  Four of the six candidates have agreed to participate.

August 29, 2020 (La Mesa) – Six candidates are vying for two seats on the La Mesa City Council. East County Magazine invited all candidates to participate in a candidate forum this Thursday, September 3 at 7 p.m. Have a question for the candidates?  You can send it to by 12 noon on Thursday.

Four of the six candidates have confirmed they will participate.  Shown in the photo above, they are Allan Durden, Mark Papenfuss, Councilman Colin Parent, and Jack Shu.  Councilmember Kristine Alessio and Laura Lothian are not available but agreed to do an interview with ECM via Zoom, which we will post when completed.

The forum, held virtually via Zoom due to COVID-19,  will be live-streamed on Facebook here:   Video will also be recorded and posted at after the forum. We thank the #FacebookJournalismProject for supporting our virtual candidate forums during the pandemic.

Below is information on all candidates running, listed in alphabetical order:

Kristine Alessio is a native of La Mesa who was elected to the La Mesa City Council in 2012 after serving for many years as a planning commissioner. She holds a law degree and has served as the city’s representative on SANDAG. She is a former board member on the East County YMCA and East County Boys and Girls Club, also donating time to support various local charities.  As candidate not aligned with a political party, she says she can represent all La Mesans, equally and fairly.

Allan Durden has been a La Mesa resident since 1964.  A Helix High School graduate, he earned a football scholarship to the University of Arizona and entered the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. He is a licensed insurance agent and regional sales manager. He says his mission is “to keep our La Mesa streets safe and our small business community thriving.”

Laura Lothian is a realtor with a business in the village. She is running to bring a business perspective to the board and vote for personal and business freedoms, reducing regulations. She supports the farmer’s market and festivals in the village and wants to create a “garden district” similar to one in New Orleans. She is on  the La Mesa Village Association board and previously ran for council and mayor. She voices support for police to address civil unrest.

Mark Papenfuss raised his family in La Mesa, where he says he’s had ties for 25 years. He cites recent events, globally and locally, that have hit La Mesa hard. He states that he has worked for a Fortune 500 company and wants to bring more small businesses into  La Mesa. He also aims to expand the farmer’s market, support affordable housing with adequate parking, and help La Mesa “rise from the ashes.” 

View video of a separate Zoom interview with Mark Papenfuss, who was unable to attend the forum due to a family emergency:

Colin Parent was elected to the La Mesa City Council in 2016.  He serves as executive director and i general counsel for Circulate San Diego. He advocates for affordable homes, accessible transit, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also cofounded La Mesa Conversations.

Jack Shu is a former California State Parks Superintendent and past president of Cleveland National Forest Foundation. He has advocated for healthy communities, human rights, environmental protection and justice. He pushed to form a Citizens Public Safety and Oversight Task Force, to address concerns of policing and racial justice.  He worked to form La Mesa’s Citizens Task for on Homelessness and served on the Wellness Committee.

Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.

East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the Facebook Journalism Project for its COVID-19 Relief Fund grant to support our local news reporting including impacts on vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more: #FacebookJournalismProject and

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