Mensinger and Stephens lead in Costa Mesa election fundraising

This year's Costa Mesa City Council race is already shaping up to be a big-money affair, with the sitting mayor raising more than $90,000 for his reelection bid and a challenger garnering almost $30,000 in contributions three months before Election Day.

Mayor Steve Mensinger, who is running for a second, four-year term, has raised roughly $90,388.


Mensinger's war chest reached $105,061, dwarfing that of any of the six other declared candidates for November's council election, according to the city clerk's office.

"I'm humbled by the expression of support I've received from the community," Mensinger said Thursday.


The latest financial filings cover the period from Jan. 1 to June 30.

The next-most-prolific fundraiser is Mesa Verde resident John Stephens, who had collected $27,876 in total contributions as of June 30. That includes a $100 personal loan to his campaign.

Stephens, who came up just short in his last council bid in 2012, has about $20,000 in the bank to fund his campaign.

When told Thursday that he was in second place in terms of fundraising, Stephens laughed and said, "I'd settle for that in the election."

There are three council seats up for grabs this year, meaning the top three vote-getters on Nov. 8 will be seated in City Hall.

Mensinger and Councilwoman Sandy Genis are running for reelection, while Councilman Gary Monahan is termed out of office.

Genis had not raised any money for her campaign as of June 30, financial records show, though she does have about $2,356 in the bank.

A good deal of Mensinger's contributions so far come from property management or development companies. Those include $7,500 from CT Realty Corp. in Newport Beach and several other $5,000 donations.

Mensinger is president of Mesa Management, a real estate management and development company.

"I'm proud of the fact that businesses support me, as business generates a majority of the tax revenue necessary to fund our budget," Mensinger said.

A large source of contributions for Stephens, who works as a business litigation attorney, is the legal community. Numerous law firms and attorneys from around Orange County are among his donors, with some giving as much as $1,000.

"I've been practicing in Orange County for almost 28 years, and I have a wealth of contacts and really good friendships and professional associations," Stephens said.

The biggest donation Stephens has received so far is $2,000 from his family's trust.

A few other council candidates have also raised five figures.

Allan Mansoor, a former mayor and state legislator, has collected about $11,538 to bankroll his bid to return to City Hall. He served on the council from 2002 to 2010 before leaving to take a seat in Sacramento.

Mansoor had about $10,465 banked as of June 30.

Eastside resident Julie Mercurio, who dropped out of the race last month, received $20,476 in total contributions for her since-suspended bid, though that figure includes a $9,000 loan.

Mercurio said Thursday that she would return her contributions to the donors.

Another Eastside resident, Lee Ramos, garnered $14,686 in total contributions, including a $5,000 loan. His campaign reported an ending cash balance of just under $13,000.

Ramos finished fourth in a field of eight candidates in 2014.

One of the candidates who finished ahead of Ramos that year — and only 47 votes shy of a council seat— is Mesa Verde resident Jay Humphrey, who is also running this year.

Humphrey, who served on the council from 1990 to 1994, recorded $5,115 in total contributions. Almost all of that came from a $5,000 loan to his campaign, records show.

He had a little more than $4,000 in the bank as of June 30.

The only other declared council candidate, State Streets resident Al Melone, did not have financial records available online as of Thursday.

Melone has run for council twice before. In 2012, he finished seventh in the field of eight candidates. In 2014, he was sixth among the eight candidates.

Twitter: @LukeMMoney