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Council candidates talk city issues

Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors' Group organized an event where seven candidates discussed topics ranging from group homes to Measure V.

October 19, 2012|By Bradley Zint
  • Costa Mesa City Council candidates, from left: Steve Mensinger, John Stephens, Al Melone, Sandy Genis, Colin McCarthy, Harold Weitzberg and Gary Monahan. The seven spoke Thursday at the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors' Group forum at the Neighborhood Community Center on a range of topics.
Costa Mesa City Council candidates, from left: Steve… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Seven of the eight Costa Mesa City Council candidates answered questions ranging from their stances on a city charter to recovery homes at a forum Thursday.

The Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors' Group, which organized the event at the Neighborhood Community Center, selected in advance five of 14 questions for each candidate to answer, though all were allowed opening and closing statements.

Councilmen Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan, attorney John Stephens, retired certified public accountant Al Melone, former Mayor Sandy Genis, Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy and businessman Harold Weitzberg attended the forum. James Rader, who has said previously that he would not actively campaign, was absent.

To improve public safety, Melone said one simple solution is addressing the dark lighting of neighborhoods.

"How about turning on the lights, like it was?" he said. "I have a friend who said it seems that the white light used to be bright. Everything is orange now."

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Monahan said the charter, listed as Measure V on the November ballot, wouldn't change the current five-member council structure or give its members more power, as alleged by critics.

"... Right now, if an ordinance comes forward or a development comes forward, it takes three votes," he said. "After the charter passes, not passes or draws, it still takes three votes" for approvals.

In a separate question, Weitzberg said that the proposed charter won't solve the pension obligation problems and that he supported increasing employees' pension contributions and some outsourcing.

"We need to sit down with our city staff ... and reasonably talk about what services can we outsource that make sense to outsource, how do we do that in a gradual manner," he said. "That will make a real impact on what our pension obligation is."

On problematic recovery homes in the city, McCarthy said there are three on his street alone that police visit weekly.

He said the best way of "skinning that cat" is to work with police and build a case, like he did.

"Declare that residence a public nuisance if you can build a strong enough case, and get those folks out of there and take back your neighborhood."

Genis said when it comes to appointing commissioners, which some allege is a system of cronyism, she would look at all angles.

"You have a diversity of viewpoints," she said. "You look for geographic diversity. You look for demographic diversity, so that the entire community can be represented on your commissions."

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