Community group plans forum for council candidates

Mesa Verde Community Inc. is hosting a Costa Mesa City Council candidate forum Thursday evening.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. The nonprofit’s president, Darnell Wyrick, is the moderator.

Mesa Verde Community, established in 1965, has hosted candidate forums in the last six election cycles, Wyrick said.

Each of the candidates will have about two minutes to make an introductory speech, he said. They will also get a chance to answer questions.

CMTV, Costa Mesa’s public-access television, will film the event.

Two seats on Costa Mesa’s five-member council are up for grabs in November’s election.

Mayor Jim Righeimer is up for reelection. Councilwoman Wendy Leece is termed out and is now running for the Orange County Water District.

The other candidates are former Councilwoman and Newport-Mesa Unified School District board member Katrina Foley; longtime resident Lee Ramos, a Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee member who also served on the charter committee; Tony Capitelli, a Whittier Law School graduate and congressional aide; Christopher Bunyan, a Banning Ranch activist and former member of the Cultural Arts and Historical Preservation committees; former Councilman Jay Humphrey, a retired pharmaceutical distribution executive; Al Melone, a retired accountant and dog park activist; and Rita Louise Simpson, a consultant for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Ramos will not be attending the forum, said his campaign manager, Dennis Popp, on Monday.

Popp, who serves alongside Ramos on the Fairview Park committee and is treasurer for Mesa Verde Community, said in an email that Ramos “will be focusing on meeting with voters rather than performing at PR events. Our key issue is allocating time and resources. We chose to emphasize contacting residents to learn what they think, rather than to talk to them from the stage.”

Popp added that Ramos does plan to attend the Feet to the Fire forum, scheduled for Sept. 18 at Orange Coast College. The Daily Pilot is a sponsor of the forum.

Wyrick said Mesa Verde Community also plans to host a forum for Newport-Mesa Unified School District board candidates.