Former councilman Jay Humphrey enters race

After a 20-year absence from the dais, former Costa Mesa City Councilman Jay Humphrey announced Thursday that he will be running for council this November.

Humphrey, 66, served one term, from 1990 to 1994, though he has remained active in the political scene in a variety of capacities.

In addition to regularly attending public meetings, Humphrey served on the senior center’s board of directors and is treasurer of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, a nonpartisan, grass-roots activist group.

Humphrey said he will be resigning from CM4RG, which frequently disagrees with the council majority, to avoid any conflicts.

The Mesa Verde resident said he feels he can use both his business skills as a retired pharmaceutical distribution executive and his previous council experience to bring “a more thoughtful, more comprehensive decision process” for Costa Mesa, where he’s lived since 1978.

“I’m very concerned about the direction the city is taking,” Humphrey said. “I’m very concerned that the outcomes that we’re facing are not necessarily well thought-out and well-executed, and, in some cases, I think they’re very poorly executed.”

Humphrey joins a field of several other announced candidates for two open seats on the five-member council this fall. After two terms, Councilwoman Wendy Leece is termed out and is now running for Congress. Mayor Jim Righeimer will be seeking reelection.

Also running are school board Trustee Katrina Foley, an attorney and former councilwoman; Lee Ramos, a longtime resident who serves on the Charter and Fairview Park committees; Tony Capitelli, a congressional aide; Christopher Bunyan, a Banning Ranch activist who also served on the Cultural Arts and Historical Preservation committees; and Harold Weitzberg, a marketing executive who is a member of CM4RG and the city’s Charter Committee.

Humphrey is a graduate of UC San Diego. He and his wife, Sally, have two children and three grandchildren.

Humphrey — who campaigned alongside CM4RG and organized labor against the 2012 charter initiative Measure V — said he continues to see no need for Costa Mesa to be governed by a charter two years later.

After the failure of Measure V, the council created a citizens committee to draft another charter, which the council will disseminate in the coming months before voting to place it on the November ballot.

“Nobody has shown me what the charter actually gives us that we don’t have [currently],” Humphrey said.

He added that the political climate now does have some similarities to when he first ran in 1990, though 2014 seems “a little bit more antagonistic to the public, and that concerns me greatly.”

“There was antagonism 20 years ago,” he said, “but it wasn’t as patently displayed. It wasn’t as one-sided and there certainly wasn’t as much of, ‘My way is where we’re going. End of story.’”

Humphrey said one of his core campaign issue is open space, enough that all Costa Mesa residents and their families have room for recreation.

“Right now, we have a ratio of open space to citizens that is pretty good,” he said. “But as we start doing things that reduce open space and add more people, you start making that ratio smaller and smaller and smaller.”

He cited a need to keep Fairview Park as a natural preserve, and that any ideas for it must be planned accordingly.

He noted frustrations with a proposed turnaround space in the park at the end of Pacific Avenue — which activists and some local archaeologists have contended will harm the Fairview Indian Site, a historic Native American archaeological remnant nearby.

After considerable debate, the Righeimer-led council majority approved the turnaround, though city officials have also hired an archaeological consultant to better examine any potential effects the project could have on the Fairview Indian Site.

“It’s very scary to me that we would, with the way we’re going, build things and not have the necessary survey” of archaeological resources, Humphrey said.

Humphrey is a registered Democrat, but stressed that he will be campaigning on local issues for a council position that is, officially, nonpartisan.

Government “only works if you allow the public to participate openly and completely,” he said. “I’ve got no problem making the decisions, but I want to do it with adequate thought, adequate planning and adequate input.”