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Petrilla Announces Bid for State Assembly

City's youngest councilman has eyes for the 73rd District in 2014.

Jesse Petrilla, who launched a two-year campaign that led to his becoming the youngest city councilman in Rancho Santa Margarita history, will have a go at higher office.

Petrilla, 29, announced Thursday his intention to run for the California State Assembly in the 73rd District, a two-year seat currently held by Diane Harkey.

Petrilla served a tour in Afghanistan from April to September with the California Army National Guard. He said in a press release he would be honored to fight for Californians in Sacramento.

"California is where I was born and raised, and I want to do my small part to help ensure our future is the best possible for all our families," he said. "I look forward to meeting with the voters of South Orange County between now and the election, and would be humbled to have their support."

Petrilla says his platform consists of fighting for lower taxes, pension reform, and bringing jobs back to California.

His term as a councilmember expires in 2014. He was elected in 2010 after an aggressive campaign he says included knocking on every Rancho Santa Margarita door twice.

Petrilla did not respond to a text request for a response.

His time in elected office has not been without obstacles. After attending four council meetings, he spent nearly four months in training at Fort Knox in 2011 before missing the five months in 2012. He also made statements through social media without being able to document his claims, and gave misleading answers about receiving council benefits though he was still receiving them at the time. Patch asked, during the public comment portion of Petrilla's last council meeting before departing to Afghanistan, to explain his false statements and correct the record; he did not respond.

Additionally, Petrilla threw his support behind 2012 council candidate Kenney Hrabik, who he also supported during the appointment process in 2011 for an open council seat. Hrabik had his own issues with misleading statements during an election year. He was largely responsible for a petition for the "Voters' Bill of Rights," which alleged Rancho Santa Margarita had a worse business environment than El Centro, Bakersfield, Philadelphia and New Orleans, though RSM was never a part of the Milken Institute study cited.

Petrilla stated after his first night in office that he intended to fight for term limits and would remain on the council for eight years. "I expect to be termed out of office," he said.

Petrilla is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton and married his wife, Vesna, in 2009.

Sharon Thompson January 04, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Jesse Petrilla is exactly the kind of honorable, partiotic young man this state and country need! You have my full support, Jesse!
MagicCharm January 04, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Whoa, Martin - sounds like you have a personal issue against Jesse! Clearly not neutral.
J.P. January 04, 2013 at 08:58 PM
No way. Over the past two years, Jesse Petrilla has repeatedly shown he is already in WAY over his head. He has only been in office for two years and he was absent almost half that time. He lacks the basic knowledge and experience to be an effective city councilman, so he obviously isn't qualified for higher office.
Just Me January 04, 2013 at 09:03 PM
I thought you couldn't hold it against someone if they were called up for active duty when in the reserves? Sounds like J.P. is doing just that.
Martin Henderson (Editor) January 05, 2013 at 01:45 AM
My "personal issue" is that he has purposefully misled the community. I stood before the city council in January, 2011, and told them—and each member of City staff—I had one standing rule: Don't lie to me. If you lie to me, you lie to the people I represent, which is your constituents and the residents of Rancho Santa Margarita. The back end of this story provides background for a man who wants you to entrust him with your vote. He has had an opportunity to correct the record. He hasn't. What is not neutral about holding him accountable? I could have added even more to this story if I wanted. I'm not dismissing facts simply because they aren't part of his press release. If you know Mr. Petrilla, ask him if he'll accept an interview with me on camera or in a public arena. Is the OC Register neutral because they don't mention any of this?
Natalie Costa January 05, 2013 at 07:28 AM
Anything is better than Harkey.
Nancy Thompson January 06, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Martin, very dissapointed that you would skew this article against Jesse and or Kenny. The election is over but seems you are still bitter? If I was him I wouldn't grant you an interview either after reading what you write about folks you don't agree with. If you don't like Jesse when he runs for office, don't vote for him. Simple as that. Interesting I don't see any info about the Register article talking about how our mayor is connected with the CC&R debockle :)) If you truly are a news venue this should be on the list of articles for the residents to see. I personally am dissapointed that Patch has turned into a "gossip" venue instead of a "news" venue, I will no longer suggest people go to the Patch to find out any news that happens in RSM.
Nancy Thompson January 06, 2013 at 01:27 AM
for those interested in reading this article go to OC Register, OC watchdog PACS linked to trash hauler supported local political campaigns
April Josephson January 06, 2013 at 08:36 PM
To those who think Martin and J.P. are judging Jesse Petrilla without merit, all I can say is you haven't been watching and interacting with him over the past few years—we have. I've tried to give him the benefit of the doubt time and again, but there's no longer any doubt in my mind with which to give him the benefit. Mr. Petrilla came to RSM to run for council specifically as a stepping stone to higher office (he told certain people so). He hasn't wasted any time trying to move up. I wish him the best with his personal goals, as long as they coincide with the best interests of his constituents—which IMO hasn't happened to date. It's been clear from the beginning that Petrilla didn't care about RSM. His behavior is calculated to give the appearance of being a good representative, without actually doing anything for us. I wish that wasn't the case. He has yet to give one snippet of input into our city budget, even though he HAD the opportunity to do so WHILE on active duty. I participated in the process. I saw the city manager tell the rest of the council that Petrilla was provided all information and asked for input, but chose not to provide any. He caused an uproar with much wasted time and taxpayer dollars in insisting that he should be allowed to participate. His behavior is well-documented. This 2011 article and comments: http://ranchosantamargarita.patch.com/articles/city-council-no-appointment-but-plenty-of-antics are a typical example of his priorities.
Nancy Thompson January 06, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Again if you don't like the guy just don't vote for him. When people spend so much of their time complaining about others, it makes me think they have nothing to offer as well. And as a member of the planning commission ( you are right?) I would think you would want to stay clear of looking like you have an agenda to bash those you dislike. Didn't you all accuse a member of this last year of choosing sides and making inappropriate comments ????
April Josephson January 06, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Nancy, there's a big difference here. Any comments I make are statements of fact (with accompanying documentation), my personal observations, and opinions about an individual—regardless of their ties to the city. It just happens that the documentation relates to their behavior within our city government. They are not the same as falsely disparaging our city itself—which is what was proven to have happened last year.

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