While the personal wounds are still fresh from the Costa Mesa City Council’s stunning decision to replace Katrina Foley with Sandy Genis as mayor, it remains to be seen whether the shakeup will have much effect on the council’s policy dynamics.
Less than a year ago, supporters of Foley, Genis and freshman Councilman John Stephens heralded them as a new majority voting bloc that would chart a different course for the city following the departures of former council members Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan.
But that consensus received a big jolt early Wednesday when Genis joined council members Allan Mansoor and Jim Righeimer — who often oppose the others — in voting to remove Foley as mayor and place Genis, the mayor pro tem, in that role.
Genis said Friday that her decision to join with her perceived council rivals doesn’t mean she’s suddenly going to change her policy stances.
On financial issues, she said, she expects to more closely align with Mansoor and Righeimer. But in the environmental realm, she identifies more with Foley and Stephens, she said.
“I have not my changed my position on anything,” Genis said.
Foley also said that she and Genis have priorities that overlap. But she described Genis’ mayoral vote as “a very strong betrayal.”
“My task at hand is to continue to do the work on behalf of the citizens of Costa Mesa, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do,” Foley said Thursday. “For sure there’s broken trust.”
Stephens — who also said he felt betrayed by Genis’ decision — paused during an interview Wednesday afternoon when asked whether it will hinder his ability to work with her moving forward.
“It’s too early to tell,” he said.
Genis said she never pledged to support anyone for mayor and “doesn’t really see it as a betrayal.”
“I feel like any support they offered was definitely returned and then some in terms of hard work and asking my friends to help and those kinds of things,” she said.
Genis said earlier that her decision was motivated by what she perceived as Foley sometimes disregarding the council’s consensus on how to conduct certain business.
Foley strongly disputed that assertion and claimed Genis’ action was “purely political.”
Genis, who has been on the council since 2012 and also served from 1988 to 1996, said Friday that she has “nothing to announce” regarding a potential mayoral campaign in 2018 — the first time local voters will be able to cast ballots specifically for that position.
Foley, who has been a council member since 2014 and also was elected to the panel in 2004 and 2008, has already said she is running for mayor next year.
Whatever bad blood lingers from the past week’s council meeting, Wendy Leece — a former council member who served with both Foley and Genis — said she thinks the two still have more in common politically than they do differences.
“There are a lot of problems to solve and I hope they can put their differences aside,” Leece said Friday. “I think they can and I think they will to work together for what’s best for Costa Mesa.”
Local activist Robin Leffler — a leader in the community group Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, which has supported Foley and Genis — said she doesn’t think Genis’ vote to remove Foley as mayor has drastically shifted her political leanings.
“Sandy is still going to be supportive of Measure Y, of Measure AA,” Leffler said, referring to local initiatives passed last year pertaining to growth and Fairview Park. “She’s still going to be the same person we’ve seen all along and, until it’s proven different, that’s what I think.”
Genis, however, acknowledged the decision will have ramifications.
“I think there may be difficulties ahead,” she said. “I’m hoping we can get past them, and that’s something we’ll have to work on. I knew there would be problems.”