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Costa Mesa mayor agrees to revise her candidate statement in response to complaint

Costa Mesa mayor agrees to revise her candidate statement in response to complaint
Costa Mesa Mayor Sandy Genis, pictured, agreed to revise portions of her candidate statement for November’s mayoral election that were challenged in court by resident and former City Council member Wendy Leece. (File Photo)

Costa Mesa Mayor Sandy Genis has agreed to revise the candidate statement for her November election campaign in response to allegations that some sections were misleading, false or improperly denigrated her opponent in the race, Councilwoman Katrina Foley.

Under an agreement signed Wednesday by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Moss, Genis edited several statements that Wendy Leece — a Costa Mesa resident and former City Council member — petitioned the court last month to have deleted.

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The revisions outlined in court documents include changing Genis’ original contention that she was the “only mayoral candidate to stand up against [the] Orange County Needle Exchange Program in state review,” to state instead that “I stood up against [the] Orange County Needle Exchange Program in state review.”

Another portion Leece objected to — “Costa Mesa residents have the right to clean, open government and decisions free of cronyism; no backroom deals” — became “Costa Mesa residents have the right to clean, open government.”

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The revised statement also tweaks a section header so it no longer refers to Genis as the “only candidate” who took actions such as voting against a “high-density 2015 general plan” and a “56 unit/acre, costly for taxpayers (over $1,500,000) Motor Inn project.”

The image at left shows the original candidate statement by Costa Mesa mayoral hopeful Sandy Genis, with disputed wording circled. The image at right shows the revised statement included in Orange County Superior Court documents.
The image at left shows the original candidate statement by Costa Mesa mayoral hopeful Sandy Genis, with disputed wording circled. The image at right shows the revised statement included in Orange County Superior Court documents. (Daily Pilot)

In her petition, Leece alleged that the disputed passages misstated Foley’s votes and public statements, contained inaccurate information and violated a provision of state elections code that “prohibits statements that make reference to another candidate’s character or activities.”

The settlement, Leece said, is “a good agreement.”

“It’s time for everyone to get back to work solving problems and working on projects which make Costa Mesa a great city,” she wrote in an email.

Genis said she agreed to remove items “that might be interpreted as targeted at another candidate,” even though she’s “not conceding that they were.”

“I do, however, stand by the factual accuracy of my statement,” she said. “I do have documentation to support everything in there, and there is no question about the factual matters contained in my statement.”

Candidate statements are printed in the Voter Information Guide, also known as the sample ballot, but are not printed on the final ballot.

Genis, a Mesa Verde resident, and Foley, who lives in Mesa del Mar, are facing off in the Nov. 6 election to become the first Costa Mesa mayor directly chosen by voters rather than selected among council members.

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