By overwhelming demand, Patch users have named retiring City Councilwoman Laura Freese as their 2012 Person of the Year.
"Thank you very much for voting for me," Freese said when contacted about her win.
Freese – who opted not to run again in November – received 47 percent of the 78 votes cast in Patch’s for-fun poll.
She joked that when she first ran in 2008, she received 29.9 percent of the vote.
"I'm going up in percentage." In all seriousness, Freese added: "It was my pleasure being a city councilman."
Veterinarian Dr. Jack Mannix, who died last month most unexpectedly, came in second with 19 percent.
Speaking to the community at large at her last meeting, Dec. 4, Freese said: “I do think I helped a little bit to make our wonderful, historical city just a little bit better.”
Among her accomplishments, according to a resolution passed by the rest of the City Council, are serving as the chair of the Redevelopment Agency, participating on the committee that devised a new master plan for development downtown and helping to attract new businesses – such as the Residence Inn, the Regency movie theater, three car dealerships and “countless small businesses.”
Economic development was her priority while on council, Freese said.
“When I first got onto council in 2008, sensible economic development and preservation was my main focus,” she said in a goodbye speech Dec. 4. “Then the economy went down, which made them even more important. They’re still my biggest issues and even though I will be off the council I will continue to work ferociously for the economic good of this city.”
Freese continues to serve on a committee formed a few months ago to help protect existing businesses during Caltrans’ major overhaul of the I-5 interchange at Ortega Highway, which could have “devastating” consequences unless action is taken, she said.
"I hope I can continue to do the job, even though I'm not a city councilman anymore," Freese said Friday.
Freese did her job “with skill and wisdom and has been sincerely dedicated to the welfare of the citizens of San Juan Capistrano,” reads the council’s resolution of appreciation.