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Wu: Voters want to move past divisions

November 24, 2012|By Jack Wu

So there you go.

With Costa Mesa City Council candidate John Stephens conceding, two of the "3Ms" kept their seats while former, and now future, Councilwoman Sandy Genis made it from the "Top 3" list of candidates opposed to the council majority.

Status quo with the now 3-2 council majority will reign again, at least for the next two years, when Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer is up for re-election and Councilwoman Wendy Leece is termed out.

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How close was it from being the other way around? How close was the Top 3 trio, along with Leece, to being able to turn the ship?

Pretty freaking close, with Stephens coming within 150 votes of defeating longtime incumbent Gary Monahan. Close enough to almost make me eat my words from my last column, where I predicted the winners. One hundred and fifty votes is close, but not crazy close like the 30 votes that separate two Fullerton council candidates or even the three votes (yes three) that County Supervisor Janet Nguyen won by in 2007.

But the 150 surely made a statement, huh?

Where the Measure V charter proposal was resoundingly defeated, the balance of power in Costa Mesa was on a string, waiting for the Orange County registrar of voters to finish counting the ballots, and it looked as though every single vote was going to matter as Stephens inched closer and closer to Monahan.

Then, all of sudden, the pendulum swung the other way, and Monahan started gaining votes. Enough for Stephens to concede, before the election is certified.

And the Costa Mesa voters have spoken. But what are they actually saying?

I think they're saying that they're tired of that the divisiveness of the council. Tired enough for change to have almost really occurred. Out of the 38,800-plus votes cast, the balance of power was determined by less than 0.4% of the electorate.

Yet, Costa Mesa had only a 64.1% voter turnout, which is actually less than the county had overall, with 66.2%, although considerably better than the estimated 57.5% nationally, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

That means that out of the 60,575 registered voters in Costa Mesa, almost 22,000 people didn't make the effort to say who they wanted for president, who they wanted for Assembly, and who they wanted to steer the ship they call home. And with 150 votes determining the direction of the S.S. Costa Mesa, the people get the representation they deserve.

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