Editor’s note: This is a follow-up to Thursday’s News-Press story on Mark Infanti’s campaign for Solvang mayor. It’s also part of an occasional series on stories on candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 election.
Mark Infanti does his homework.
That’s according to Solvang Mayor Charlie Uhrig and current and former Solvang City Council members supporting Mr. Infanti in his campaign to be elected Solvang’s next mayor.
Mayor Uhrig, who has decided not to seek re-election, told the News-Press that Mr. Infanti, the current mayor pro tem, always comes to city council meetings well-prepared.
“He studies all the documents, and we’ve had some long agendas,” Mayor Uhrig said Wednesday morning outside the city government complex in Solvang, where Mr. Infanti announced his candidacy before a few reporters and supporters.
Mayor Uhrig, who persuaded Mr. Infanti to run for mayor, said the mayor pro tem listens to a lot of input on various issues before making what he feels are the best decisions for Solvang.
Councilmember Jim Thomas, who stood with Mayor Uhrig and others Wednesday to show their support, said Mr. Infanti’s preparedness has impressed him.
“He dots every ‘i,’ crosses every ‘t,’ ” Mr. Thomas said, adding that he’s impressed that Mr. Infanti is so familiar with the huge agenda packets. “He reads every word. He knows the issues. That’s the thing I admire the most.
“He follows his heart and mind and does what he thinks is in the best interest of Solvang,” Mr. Thomas said.
Councilmember Claudia Orona is also impressed with Mr. Infanti and his knowledge of local issues. She told the News-Press that Mr. Infanti has served Solvang in various capacities, which included being a member of the planning commission.
Former city council member Joan Jaimeson, who stood with Ms. Orona and others during Mr. Infanti’s candidacy announcement, told the News-Press why she is supporting the mayor pro tem.
“I think he’s very level-headed,” she said. “He looks at all sides of the issues and tries to do what’s best for the city of Solvang.”
When asked about what’s best for Solvang’s future, Mr. Infanti stressed the importance of keeping the city’s unique, Danish-themed character.
“We want this town to be a quaint little village of great people, where everything is unique,” he told the News-Press in the city of windmills and Danish bakeries.
He added that the city council passed a rule that blocks chains from coming into the city. (A Subway in Solvang is among the businesses that existed before the rule was passed.)
“What businesses can I bring in? The predominant business we would like to have is hotels because of the transient occupancy tax,” Mr. Infanti said. “That is 50% of our general revenue. That’s how much money that brings in.
“I’d also like to see more small businesses,” he said.
Mr. Infanti said the city also faces the challenge of allowing up to 191 new low- and moderate-income residences, as required by state law.
The last city council passed an urban boundary limit, Mr. Infanti said. “We can’t expand the city limits. I can’t get more land necessarily. I have to make some allowance for housing to get built, low-income housing.
“This is not a low-income town,” he said, noting the high average price of homes.
Mr. Infanti was elected to the Solvang City Council in 2020.
“I was very disappointed with some of the decisions made by the prior council. I felt there had to be a better way to do things,” he told the News-Press, mentioning the 87% vote in favor of the recall of Councilmember Chris Djernaes.
Supporters in the small crowd during the candidacy announcement told Mr. Infanti that they were very happy with the council that has overseen Solvang since the 2020 election.
Mr. Infanti, a retired project management consultant for aerospace and defense companies, and his wife, Gay, moved to Solvang from Huntington Beach in 2013. The couple were well acquainted with Solvang, where they celebrated their first wedding anniversary more than 30 years ago.
Mr. Infanti said he and his wife miss the proximity to beaches and Huntington Beach’s stores and restaurants.
But there are things they don’t miss, such as Huntington Beach’s problem with rising water levels.
“We don’t miss the traffic, the graffiti, the crime,” Mr. Infanti said.
Solvang stands out in contrast to that.
“We don’t have a lot of crime,” Mr. Infanti said. “The neighborhoods are a safe place to walk.
“It’s a wonderful town that’s comfortable to live in.”