Our Guest Geoff West (‘A Bubbling Cauldron’) on Costa Mesa’s 2018 Elections!


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[Editor’s note: One pleasure of Facebook has been the ability to continue to see occasional thoughts from Geoff West about county and city politics, even after the (almost complete) closing of the late and lamented “A Bubbling Cauldron”), which — within it’s scope — was the best political blog in Orange County.  (Now WE are!  But the competition is not fierce.)

I asked Geoff if he would provide us with his thoughts on the upcoming elections in Costa Mesa — and, to my delight, he agreed!  (He had it done in a matter of hours, too!)  I respect his choice to shutter his blog — it really is a physical and emotional drain to produce new content, especially of the caliber he long provided, and he was working without a partner and contributing editors — but I’m glad to say he’ll have the key to the door here anytime he’d like it, for the asking, with no demands made and no conditions imposed.  — G.A.D.

P.S. Vern may festoon this piece small pictures, in the old style of A Bubbling Cauldron….]

Right panel — Katrina Foley (second from left, in blue) with her slate, Manuel Chavez, Arliss Reynolds, and Andrea Marr; left panel, Sandy Genis being whispered to by destructive imp.

THE CHANGE

It’s a very interesting year in Costa Mesa.  For the first time voters will choose council members by districts instead of at-large, as has been the case since the city was founded in 1953.  Two years ago the extortionist/lawyer from Malibu forced the City to make a choice of go to district voting to provide the Latinos (37% of the population of Costa Mesa) a better opportunity for “representation”, or be sued.  The City, as have many others when faced with this issue, chose to carve up the city into voting districts and begin the process of “Balkanizing” our town.

THE PROCESS

A consulting demographer was hired, meetings were held and most attendees chose a 5-district plan – two were presented.  Late in the process Jim Righeimer cornered the demographer and told him he wanted to see a 6-district/directly-elected mayor option, so participants in the final two community meetings also had that option to consider.  NOT A SINGLE person thought that was a good choice.  However, when it came time for the city council to choose which option to place on the 2016 ballot for the voters to consider, Righeimer quick-pitched the process and, on a 3-2 vote, had the 6-district/directly-elected mayor plan placed on the ballot.  And, to make things worse, nobody wrote an opposing ballot statement on the issue!  I take some responsibility for that – I thought Sandy Genis was writing one, so I didn’t.  My bad…  So, in November we choose a directly-elected mayor and council members in 3 districts – #3, #4, and #5.  The remaining 3 will be chosen in 2020. The three contested districts this year have the fewest number of voters, with #4 having half the voters than both #3 and #5.

COSTA MESA MAYOR

Two years ago my choice in this race might have been problematic for me.  Both women who are on the ballot have long and illustrious public service backgrounds.  Both have gone above and beyond to fix things in our city.  I admired both and said so loud and often.  That was two years ago – this is now.  I will vote for Katrina Foley and it’s a very easy choice for me.

KATRINA FOLEY, a very successful lawyer, has demonstrated her concern for Costa Mesa over the past two decades.  She served previously on the Planning Commission for 5 years, then the City Council, where she has been elected 3 times.  She abandoned her council seat to run for a position as a trustee on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board, taking with her the organizational skills and passion to that body.  Subsequently she was re-elected to the Costa Mesa City Council and her term expires this year.  She could have chosen to run again in the new District 3, but chose to run for directly-elected mayor instead.  Katrina was chosen as mayor by her peers following the 2016 election, a position in which she served with enthusiastic distinction for nearly a year before being unceremoniously ousted by a majority led by then-mayor pro tem Sandra Genis.  No reason has ever been given for that unprecedented ouster.  For all we know it was just a petty peeve on Genis’ part – or maybe a part of a larger plan by the Jim Righeimer-led cabal as he departs the dais (he’s termed out this year).

SANDRA GENIS has served Costa Mesa for three decades, from the time when she was first elected to the City Council in 1988 through the present day.  Even while not on the dais she actively participated in critical city issues – like helping to save our bacon in the County bankruptcy and saving the Fairgrounds.  Nobody can question her contributions to the City over the years.  However, over the past couple years, she has noticeably changed – many of her former friends and supporters acknowledge that fact.  In years past she stood out as an intelligent, independent thinker, but recently she has clearly aligned herself with the cabal headed by lame duck councilman Jim Righeimer and formed an alliance with him and Allan Mansoor which ousted Foley from her office and have made other curious (at best) moves that betrayed the change in her governance.  She was elected mayor by her alliance, then Mansoor was elected Mayor Pro Tem.

Her ballot statement is full of inaccurate and misleading statements and is now the subject of legal action.  As a long time resident of this city and lifetime Republican I can no longer trust her judgment and will not vote for her in November.  She could have simply remained on the council for two more years until her new district – #1 – will be contested in 2020.  Instead, she chose to challenge Foley.  If she loses she still has her at-large seat for two more years.

COUNCIL DISTRICT 3

There are two candidates for this district, which comprises much of the area that borders OCC and the Fairgrounds and a little strip of the Eastside
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BRETT ECKLES, a contractor with strong youth-sports leadership roots, is a candidate being supported by the Righeimer group.  He’s a nice guy, who previously served as Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, but his entanglements with the group that facilitated unbridled growth in the city and attempted to turn Fairview Park into playing fields, make him a dangerous candidate for those who wish to protect and preserve the quality of life in Costa Mesa.

ANDREA MARR, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and Naval Officer who served this country for 5 years driving some of the most sophisticated vessels in our fleet, is an engineer who has served the community on several city committees, demonstrating team-building and leadership skills.  She presents a fresh face and solid analytical and leadership skills.  She has strong support from Katrina Foley and councilman John Stephens.   If I could vote for her I would.

COUNCIL DISTRICT 4

This district is the reason for district voting in Costa Mesa.  This small area – almost completely surrounded by District 5, with the north boundary abutting part of #1-  is populated by a large number of Latinos and, while the demographic analysis that created it showed population similar in total numbers to the others, it has the smallest number of voters – by far – than any of the other districts.  There are three candidates for this new position.

STEVE CHAN is a Asian-American resident who has spoken eloquently before the City Council in recent years on issues that directly affected his neighborhood – a noisy bar and nearby sober living homes.  His late candidacy surprised many council watchers.  His presence on the ballot will likely scramble things and, very likely, help another surprise candidate, Michelle Figueredo-Wilson.

MANUEL CHAVEZ is a young up-and-comer and is the youngest person on the ballot at age 22.  He’s a UCI graduate, a life-long Westside Costa Mesa resident and has support from Foley and Stephens, too.  His campaign appears to be resonating with the Latino voters, but we won’t know until November.

MICHELLE FIGUEREDO-WILSON is a person unknown in our community until very recently.  She’s a realtor (outside the city) who lives in District 4 and her ballot statement perpetuates the myth that her area has been “unrepresented” in years past.  There is NO evidence to support that claim.  It’s unclear who is supporting her candidacy, but we know it is NOT Foley and her very effective organization.

If I could vote this time around for this district I would most likely vote for Chavez.  Yes, he’s young, but he’s smart and clearly understands the needs of his district.

DISTRICT 5

This new district includes all of Fairview park on the far west side of Costa Mesa and surrounds the lower and east side part of District 4.  There are three candidates for this new district.

Mansoor: disfavored.

ALLAN MANSOOR, currently the Mayor Pro Tem following the ouster of Katrina Foley late last year, carries with him a heavy shadow of divisiveness that marked his previous tours.  He was elected to the council for the third time two years ago following an unremarkable tour in the State Assembly after he was termed-out of his Costa Mesa Council seat.  He’s a retired Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy (jailer) who managed to alienate himself to most of his fellow deputies during his career.  In his previous council tours he is infamous for attempting to have every member of the Costa Mesa Police Department deputized as an ICE agent.  He was named an honorary Minuteman by founder Jim Gilchrist and the now-deceased Barbara Coe.  He was personally responsible for launching Jim Righeimer’s Costa Mesa political career when, as payback for campaign help provided by Righeimer and Dana Rohrabacher back in 2006, he appointed Righeimer to the Planning Commission.  Currently an at-large council member, he was recently accused of living outside the city – which would have disqualified him from his council seat.  Originally elected to what will now be considered District 2, he didn’t have to run this time – there are 2 more years left on his first term.  He and his family moved to District 5 when he moved back into the city.  However, he would be left without a chair when the music stops in 2020 because his district of residence, #5, will be occupied.  So, he’s running this year.  If he loses this race he will still have his at-large seat on the council until 2020.  He has nothing to lose – except other people’s money – by running this time around.

ARLIS REYNOLDS, is a lifetime Costa Mesan.  She was educated in Costa Mesa schools and is an engineer with an MIT pedigree.  She is smart, energetic and dedicated to her hometown.  She currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission.  She was active in the grass roots organizations that have fought to preserve the Banning Ranch and Fairview Park.  She has the support of Foley, Stephens and former councilwoman Wendy Leece, plus many other organizations and dignitaries.  I would vote for her if I could.  She’s right for Costa Mesa.

Trahan – highly disfavored

REBECCA TRAHAN is a fairly recent transplant from Texas.  She has served on two city committees and has recently become more visible at council meetings.  Her ballot statement misrepresents her qualifications vis a vie the other candidates.  She’s an “unusual” woman – I’ve spent some time around her.  I would not vote for her if she was the only person on the ballot.

MY BALLOT

I can only vote for Mayor this time around.  I will vote for Foley.  If either Genis or Mansoor are elected to new positions this year it will mean one or two appointments to the council will be necessary.  The city would almost certainly not have a costly special election.  Depending on the makeup of the council following the election, that could be very interesting.  If Foley and those three she supports are all elected they, plus Stephens, would for a supermajority of the seven members on the dais, with Genis and Mansoor alone in the minority.  This will very likely be the most contentious, nasty campaign in city history – the mayor’s race is already taking on that complexion.

Some reference material for you:
Candidate List – http://www.costamesaca.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=31599
District Map – http://apps.costamesaca.gov/maps/VotingDistrict.html
Voter Counts by District – http://www.costamesaca.gov/home/showdocument?id=31431

COSTA MESA SANITARY DISTRICT

This organization was also extorted by the same Malibu law firm that gave Costa Mesa district voting.  In 2020 they will begin that process.  This time all seats are still at-large.  The district will be divided in 2020 into 5 districts, which only vaguely resemble the City of Costa Mesa districts.  This time 3 incumbents are being challenged by one outsider.  I will vote for all the incumbents because they individually and collectively have demonstrated excellence in management of this organization over the past decades.

MESA WATER DISTRICT

This organization, which already elects members by districts, has 3 seats up for grabs this time around and I actually get to vote for one of them.  Mesa Water, which is a well-run special district, stepped in it big-time when they attempted to orchestrate a hostile takeover of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District.  That issue has been resolved, but it’s clear that changes are in order on the Mesa Water Board.  The seats of President Jim Atkinson and Directors Marice DePasquale and Shawn Dewane are available.  I get to vote for a replacement for Dewane.  DePasquale is an appointee replacing departed Ethan Temianka (a Righeimer protege’ who bailed out for greener pastures in Ohio).  Dewane is also running for re-election on the Orange County Water District Board.  At least two of those Mesa Water seats need to be flipped.  I will vote for Anna Vrska in her attempt to unseat Dewane – a tough task, since he has LOTS of cash behind him.  She has going for her that she is an exceptionally bright, tenacious activist.  Ryan Ferryman, son of Water District Director Jim Ferryman, is contesting DePasquale’s seat.  I don’t know who else is running.

48TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

This is a fascinating race.  Republicans Dana Rohrabacher and former friend and sidekick Scott Baugh flogged each other mercilessly during the primary, with Baugh providing plenty of ammunition for Democrat Harley Rouda – who barely beat fellow Democrat Hans Keirstad for the second spot on the ballot.  Now the Rohrabacher camp is attacking Rouda with the same kind of vengeance.  The district is VERY heavily Republican, but Rohrabacher is vulnerable because he’s basically done not much during his 3 decade tour in the House of Representatives AND he is linked – at least in the press – to the whole Trump/Putin issue.  Rohabacher has coasted to easy victories in the past… it might not be the case this time around.

Quite honestly, as a lifelong Republican, I’m still not sure how I will vote.  The whole Rohrabacher/Baugh thing made me ill and very disappointed, but the thought of contributing to another Democrat House majority makes me very nervous.  Sorry about that, pardner.


About Admin

"Admin" is just editor Vern Nelson or associate editor Greg Diamond sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.