The message of the article "Hardy gets nods in race" (Aug. 23) is a harbinger for the local elections in November. Former mayor and two-term council member Jill Hardy did an outstanding job of representing all of the neighborhoods in Huntington Beach while in office (and previously on the Planning Commission).

The fact that she was eagerly endorsed by two downtown leaders, Kim Kramer of the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn. and David Rice of HB Neighbors, is an early indication that she will be solidly backed in the community. This, in an effort to establish a new council majority that will be more community-oriented.

These "community" endorsements are in stark contrast to the announced picks of outgoing council majority member Keith Bohr who, according to the article, is backing incumbent Devin Dwyer and Planning Commissioner Barbara Delgleize — both likely to continue the conservative, developer-backed council majority agenda currently propagated by outgoing Mayor Don Hansen.

Unfortunately, the crop of City Council candidates is decidedly more conservative this year, and community members seeking change will have to work much harder to win their needed two seats. The entry of conservative but independent-minded former Mayor Dave Sullivan is a further twist to the battle between community-oriented candidates and developer-backed candidates.

In 2002, newcomer Hardy finished ahead of incumbent Sullivan, as they both won that year. Many are wondering if history will repeat itself a decade later.

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach

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Columnist has right to faith

There have been several letters to the editor lately about Mona Shadia's column, "Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C." Some are responding to information or ideas prompted by the column and providing additional information of interest.

I enjoyed reading Maneck Bhujwala's letter about Zoroastrian tradition (Re. "Many roads and prophets can lead to one God," Mailbag, Aug. 9).

However, others are criticizing the Independent for running the column. A recent letter said, "[It] is wrong (almost immoral) to use the platform of a local newspaper for her religion/views..." (Re. "Certain column space should go to the dogs," Commentary, Aug. 23). Some of the criticisms seem a little personal.

Readers may remember the column Soul Food by Michele Marr that ran in the Independent for many years. Presenting predominantly Christian views, Marr sometimes wrote about other religions or spirituality in general.

I do not recall the Independent being criticized, accused of misusing space, or called immoral for running her column.

When Marr posed an idea based on her own opinion or interpretation, I do not recall her being condemned for not being an expert theologian. She was allowed room as a columnist to explore issues and write about her personal perspective on faith. Whether you agreed or disagreed with her, the columns were always interesting.

The city of Huntington Beach has a Declaration of Policy About Human Dignity, which advocates respect for our cultural and religious diversity. This commitment led to Huntington Beach being one of the first cities in the state to form a Human Relations Task Force (of which I am a former member), not to mention our Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council.

I'd ask those readers who feel uncomfortable reading Shadia's column to give it an equal chance, or, simply, turn to the other fine columnists and features in the Independent.

Mary Urashima

Huntington Beach