By Brian Park
San Juan Capistrano bid farewell to outgoing Councilwoman Laura Freese Tuesday.
Friends, family and colleagues gathered to congratulate Freese for her time served on the council.
In her farewell address to the city, Freese expressed gratitude to her fellow council members, city staff, her family and her supporters. She closed by warning residents not to believe everything they read in local media, specifically “opinions not facts,” and told council members they were not “monarchs” and to remember they served the residents of San Juan Capistrano.
As she left the podium, Freese was met with a standing ovation from the audience.
Back on the dais, Freese’s fellow council members offered their parting words:
“I appreciate your wit and wisdom and keeping all us boys in line,” Mayor Pro Tem Sam Allevato said. “You truly brought a great passion and intelligence to this group. You will be missed.”
“I’m going to miss you,” Mayor John Taylor said. “This city is so fortunate to have you.”
“I just want to thank you. I cannot imagine being a new council member and you not having been here. You really made that transition and that learning curve so much easier,” Councilman Derek Reeve said. “On so many different levels, I respect you.”
Added Councilman Larry Kramer: “We’re saying goodbye to you but you’re not going away, I’m sure of that.”
Freese said she will continue to serve on the city’s Oversight Board for the Successor Agency to the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Economic Preservation Subcommittee, which was formed to lessen the impact of Caltrans’ Interstate 5/Ortega Highway Interchange Project on local businesses.
Freese, who announced in August she would not seek reelection due to her husband’s cancer diagnosis, was first elected to the council in 2008 and served one term as mayor pro tem.
Freese’s husband, Steve, was treated for cancer six weeks ago. After seven months, Freese said her husband is now cancer free.
“I made an oath to serve the city for four years and I did my duty, but I made a vow to stick with him through thick and think 40 years ago,” Freese said. “Now that Steve is okay, the family is doing great.”