COSTA MESA — Appearing poised to overcome well-organized political attacks in the final weeks of the election, Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer and Councilwoman Wendy Leece were leading the race for two open seats on the City Council, early election returns show.
With absentee ballots counted and no precincts reporting, teacher Chris McEvoy appeared to be the No. 3 vote getter.
Trailing were Sue Lester, a marijuana dispensary owner, and Chad Petschl, a salesman.
Righeimer and Leece were both expected to face strong challenges from McEvoy, who benefitted from late spending by Costa Mesa First, an independent expenditure committee led by former Mayor Sandy Genis.
The committee, which received money from both the Costa Mesa police and firefighter associations and various public safety unions countywide, recently began backing McEvoy, among other candidates, making signs for him after he refused to accept donations. The police association began campaigning against Righeimer after he publicly challenged their pay and benefits and vowed to do something about it, should he win.