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Banning Ranch critic enters Costa Mesa council race

Christopher Bunyan says he is opposed to the city's current direction.

April 01, 2014|By Bradley Zint
(SCOTT SMELTZER…)

Christopher Bunyan's candidacy for Costa Mesa City Council is, in his words, about "climate change."

He's not referring to greenhouse gases, but rather to the political climate in which the City of the Arts finds itself in 2014. He cites the two council members suing the police union over alleged extortion, the municipal employees union suing the city over a failed pink slip attempt, the staffing problems at the Police Department and the threats of development at Fairview Park and Banning Ranch.

"I really don't think that [Mayor Jim Righeimer] and the council majority has engendered a culture that's friendly to anything in this city," said Bunyan, 40.

Then, Bunyan noted, there's the prosecution of a vandalism case involving a $5 campaign sign — a case initiated after a private detective, hired by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, filmed a man tearing up a sign during the heated 2012 election. Last week, a jury found a former Costa Mesa city maintenance worker accused of the act, Steven Charles White, not guilty.

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Mensinger and his allies are "obsessed with these little details and getting up on these little rabbit trails of stuff that lead to nowhere," Bunyan said in an interview Monday at The Lab, where he has worked as a hairstylist at Crew Salon since 2001.

He also works as a contractor for Google advertising, does legal negotiations for a Newport Beach law firm and is a sports agent for mixed martial arts clients.

After unsuccessful runs for the council in 2006 and 2008, Bunyan hopes his third bid is the charm. He has spent about eight years living in the Newport-Mesa area, in Costa Mesa from 2005 to 2008, then in Corona del Mar before moving back to Costa Mesa's Eastside last year.

He has served on Costa Mesa's Cultural Arts and Historical Preservation committees and has been an activist against the Banning Ranch development since 2006 — before it was much of a hot topic, he said.

In 2008, he founded Banning Ranch Defenders. He's the group's president and works alongside the Banning Ranch Conservancy to protest the proposed 1,375-home development in West Newport.

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