Although the November municipal election is five months away, homeowner groups in the city and a local grass-roots political action committee are wasting no time in deciding whom they will support for two seats on the City Council this fall.
At a forum hosted by the Costa Mesa Citizens' Coalition and Mesa Action at Estancia High School Thursday night, neighborhood leaders listened to almost a dozen potential candidates, all of whom hope to win the coalition's support.
Two incumbents, Mayor Norma Hertzog and Councilwoman Arlene Schafer, are up for reelection. However, both groups will be trying to unseat them, since many of their members believe the two officials have been too supportive of the city's further development.
Among the council hopefuls are Planning Commissioner Joe Erickson, attorney Patricia Aynes and businessman Doug Yates, who was endorsed by the two groups in 1984 but lost out in his bid to unseat Councilman Donn Hall.
Mesa Action and the coalition--which is composed of six homeowner associations--scored a coup two years ago when they helped elect slow-growth candidates Dave Wheeler and Mary Hornbuckle.
"We are here to finish the job we started in 1984," Yates said during his 10-minute presentation. Bob Hammond, a member of the coalition and Mesa Action, said the forum was the first of three steps to screen potential candidates.
"We are looking for two viable candidates who agree with us on the major issue--development" said Hammond, who like others in the community winces at the thought of suburban Costa Mesa becoming an urban center.
"It is not that we are against development, but we have to have planned development rather than whatever goes, goes. We've got to slow it down," he said.
Neighborhood leaders also said they are encouraged by last week's election victory of "slow-growthers" Larry Agran and Ed Dornan to the Irvine City Council.
The Costa Mesa Citizens' Coalition plans to make its endorsements before Aug. 8, the deadline for candidates to file their official papers with the city. Once the homeowner representatives have made their choice, Mesa Action, a political action committee, will raise money to promote their candidacies. In 1984, the group raised almost $20,000 for Wheeler, Hornbuckle and Yates.