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Election 2018: Meet the candidates in historic Costa Mesa City Council race

Election 2018: Meet the candidates in historic Costa Mesa City Council race
Costa Mesa City Council candidates, clockwise from top left: Katrina Foley, Sandy Genis (both of whom are running for mayor), Brett Eckles, Andrea Marr, Steve Chan, Rebecca Trahan, Arlis Reynolds, Allan Mansoor, Michelle Figueredo-Wilson and Manuel Chavez. (Courtesy and file photos)

No matter the results, this year’s election will be historic in Costa Mesa.

For the first time, local voters will directly choose the city’s mayor rather than having the position filled by a majority vote among council members.

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In another change, the other council seats up for grabs will be filled using designated voting districts. In this election Nov. 6, residents in each of three districts — Nos. 3 , 4 and 5 — will choose one candidate to represent them.

The Daily Pilot sent a questionnaire to all council candidates on the ballot to get a better idea of who they are, why they’re running and what issues they feel are most pressing. Some responses have been edited for formatting, brevity or clarity.

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Mayor

Katrina Foley

Age: 51

Professional occupation: Attorney and business owner

Education: Bachelor of Arts in English, UCLA; juris doctorate, Seattle University

Time lived in the city: 22 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Mesa del Mar, 21 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa City Council member from 2014 to present and 2004-10; Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustee from 2010 to 2014; Orange Coast College President Search Committee, Coast Community College Citizens Oversight Committee, Travel Costa Mesa, Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control board, Costa Mesa Planning Commission, NMUSD Measure A Oversight Committee, Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee, Costa Mesa High School Foundation, Costa Mesa football and golf boosters, Costa Mesa Community Athletic Foundation, National Scholastic Skateboarding League, Costa Mesa Home Tour Foundation, Girl Scouts of Orange County, Orange County Women Lawyers Assn., Orange County Trial Lawyers Assn., Orange County Head Start, Hispanic and Celtic Bar associations, Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, TH Hoops Basketball Academy, Costa Mesa Pop Warner, Costa Mesa High School and Sonora Elementary School PTAs; City Council liaison to Newport Mesa Arts Commission, Cultural Arts Committee, Bikeway and Walkability Committee, Orange County Fair, Finance Advisory Committee, Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Youth in Government Program, Child Care and Youth Services Committee and Santa Ana Blue Ribbon Committee

Immediate family members: Husband Casey Swanson; sons Sam and Ben Swanson

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. Public safety: Restore staffing to our police and fire departments so we can provide community policing.

2. Sober-living home reform: Protect against nuisance drug rehab businesses and lobby Washington, D.C., and Sacramento to promote laws restricting those affronts to our neighborhoods.

3. Ending homelessness and stopping the Orange County Needle Exchange Program: Partner with other cities and community organizations to reduce homelessness and its negative impacts on our community. We do our fair share. Other cities need to step up.

Sandy Genis

Age: Did not answer

Professional occupation: Land planner and mayor

Education: Bachelor of Science, Stanford University

Time lived in the city: 58 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Mesa Verde Tree Streets, 58 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa City Council from 1988 to 1996 and 2012 to present; mayor 1992-94 and present; Southern California Assn. of Governments Regional Council, Southern California Special Commission on Air Quality and the Economy, Orange County Regional Advisory and Planning Council, Orange County Housing Commission, Orange County Charter Commission, Orange County Animal Care Community Outreach Committee, Orange County Affordable Housing Task Force, Orange County Single Room Occupancy Housing Task Force; Orange County Friends of Harbors Beaches and Parks, Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society, Newport Bay Watershed Executive Committee, Costa Mesa Residents for Responsible Government, Mesa Verde Homeowners Assn. (later known as Mesa Verde Community Inc.), Stop Polluting Our Newport/Still Protecting Our Newport, Bolsa Chica Land Trust, Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control board; City Council liaison to Fairview Park Steering Committee, Finance and Pension Advisory Committee, Animal Services Committee, Housing and Public Services Ad Hoc Committee and Traffic Impact Fee Ad Hoc Committee

Immediate family members: Did not answer

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. Public safety: This is the primary job of government and includes everything from police protection to help in a disaster to providing a safe roadway system. We need fully staffed, well-equipped public safety teams, including police, fire, building/code enforcement and engineers.

2. Homelessness: We need to help those who want help in getting into housing and enforce laws for those engaged in problem activities who don’t want to change. We should do our share and help our own but cannot be the regional provider. This is also a public safety issue.

3. City finances: It doesn't matter what else we want to do if we don’t have the funds. We need to spend less, rebuild reserves and, if we have surplus funds to spend after rebuilding reserves and addressing debt, the surplus should be spent on capital assets.

District 3

Includes College Park, Mesa del Mar and a portion of the upper Eastside

Brett Eckles

Age: 42

Professional occupation: Owner of Eckles Construction Inc., with a focus on public works such as schools

Education: Bachelor of Arts in marketing and minor in political science, Southern Methodist University

Time lived in the city: 15 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Eastside Costa Mesa; in current home since 2011, previously lived in another house in Eastside Costa Mesa

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission, AYSO Region 97 (Costa Mesa and Newport Beach), Newport Harbor Boys Lacrosse Booster Club, Costa Mesa United, American Subcontractors Assn. of California

Immediate family members: Did not answer

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

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1. Reducing homelessness through enforcement and utilizing public-private partnerships

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2. Reducing the concentration of rehabilitation homes in our residential neighborhoods

3. Fiscal discipline that prioritizes essential spending for our community and eliminates wasteful and redundant spending. Adopt policies to attract job-creating businesses to Costa Mesa.

Andrea Marr

Age: 35

Professional occupation: Mechanical engineer licensed in Washington state, managing large energy-efficiency projects. I work for Willdan, a large publicly traded company, and oversee local and international projects.

Education: Bachelor of Science, aerospace engineering, U.S. Naval Academy; Master of Science, engineering management, Old Dominion University

Time lived in the city: Six years.

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Fairview Village, three years; previously lived on Cabrillo Street in Eastside Costa Mesa

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa Cultural Arts Committee since 2015; Costa Mesa Bikeway and Walkability Committee, 2015-17; Team Red, White and Blue and Waves of Valor programs for veterans services; judging science and environmental competitions at high schools

Immediate family members: Husband Scott Sylvester, parents, brother.

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. Homelessness. While the city has done great work with the Network for Homeless Solutions, we must do more to get more people housed but not become a dumping ground for Orange County. We need to work with the county, other cities and existing nonprofits to get people off the streets.

2. Public safety. For several years, we have had an understaffed Police Department as a direct result of the political climate at City Hall and City Council members who wanted to outsource city services. I believe public safety is the most important role of government, and while we are making progress toward our current budgeted staffing level of 136 sworn officers, we need to reevaluate whether that budgeted number is enough.

3.Sober-living homes. Costa Mesa has passed two ordinances to regulate sober-living homes, but I believe we need to do more to continue to address the nuisance complaints of neighbors while preventing the mistreatment of patients and over-concentration of facilities in our neighborhoods.

District 4

Dense Westside pocket south of the Fairview Developmental Center, ranging from Harbor Boulevard west to Monrovia Avenue and south to West 17th Street

Steve Chan

Age: 59

Professional occupation: Businessman

Education: Some college

Time lived in the city: 26 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Spice Streets for two years, Westside for 24 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Westside neighborhood activist

Immediate family members: Three children

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. The perfect storm of prison/crime reform, residential treatment, a national opioid crisis and homeless and transient population surges has converged in Costa Mesa during a period when public-services staff declined. All these need addressing since they have negatively impacted our city’s quality of life and public safety.

2. Transportation, traffic, parking and vehicle management negatively impact everything from public safety to development. While congestion can be associated with economic growth, it can also hinder growth.

3. The unfunded pension liability threatens solvency and must be paid down with acceleration.

Manuel Chavez

Age: 22

Professional occupation: Dealer funding coordinator, United Auto Credit

Education: Bachelor’s degree, UC Irvine; double major in political science and religious studies

Time lived in the city: Entire life

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Westside Costa Mesa, entire life

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Save Our Youth, California Democratic Party, Democrats of Greater Irvine, College Democrats at UC Irvine, St. Joachim Catholic Church, Christ Cathedral

Immediate family members: Father Juan Chavez, mother Elena Perez, sister Delayla Perez-Zepeda, stepfather Alfredo Perez

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. Infrastructure: I am committed to investing in infrastructure in Westside Costa Mesa, including public parks, road upkeep, traffic signals and streetlights.

2. Safety: I will work nonstop to support our city’s first responders and law enforcement. Our City Council should prioritize keeping departments local and restoring depleted staffing levels.

3. Homelessness: I’ll work with residents, neighboring cities and the county for better short- and long-term solutions to this pressing issue. A study at UC Irvine found that permanent supportive housing is more cost-effective than leaving the homeless on the street, and we must actively pursue this compassionate and fiscally responsible approach.

Michelle Figueredo-Wilson

Age: 36

Professional occupation:: Realtor/businesswoman

Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in public administration

Time lived in the city: Four years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Westside, four years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Volunteered in California’s prison education program and tutored aspiring elementary school musicians

Immediate family members: Husband Glenn Wilson

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. Public safety: Reduce homelessness, hire more police officers and oppose needle distribution to improve our quality of life. Our families deserve safe and clean neighborhoods and more parks.

2. Traffic/development: We need infrastructure revitalization to reduce traffic congestion, decrease parking chaos and create safer street conditions. Our neighborhoods and streets should be as beautiful as the rest of Costa Mesa.

3. Pension liabilities: Expenditures are outpacing revenue, so we need to create a friendlier business climate and attract new revenue sources to avoid higher taxation. I am running to be a strong independent voice for the Westside.

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District 5

Wraps around District 4, taking in downtown and the remainder of the Westside​​​

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Allan Mansoor

Age: 54

Professional occupation: Retired Orange County sheriff's deputy

Education: Associate of Arts

Time lived in the city: Moved here in 1976

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Westside, since 2017 and from 1995 to about 2006

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa City Council from 2002-10 and 2016 to present; mayor 2005-07 and 2009-10; California Assembly, 2010-14; Orange County Transportation Authority board, 2006-10

Immediate family members: Wife Janniffer, children Avalon Jane, Joshua Dayton and August Alexander

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. We must protect public safety in a time of rising crime statewide. We must take a strong stand on reducing drug rehab homes, stop needle distribution programs and prevent portable-toilet proposals that will harm Costa Mesa’s neighborhoods.

2. Reducing homelessness is a critical issue because Costa Mesa shouldn’t bear Orange County’s entire burden. Our city’s Network for Homeless Solutions is a public-private partnership that connects the homeless to services.

3. Preserving Costa Mesa’s way of life, and particularly the Westside’s charm, is vital. We need to ensure that any development reflects the character of the neighborhood without overdeveloping the area or causing traffic problems, and we must keep Fairview Park as natural as possible.

Arlis Reynolds

Age: 34

Professional occupation: Engineer and businesswoman working in energy efficiency, clean energy and sustainability

Education: Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Time lived in the city: Grew up in Costa Mesa and returned permanently in early 2015

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Grew up and live in the Freedom Homes/Canyon Park neighborhood

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission; Costa Mesa Women’s Club, Sierra Club, Banning Ranch Conservancy, Banning Ranch Task Force, Saving Banning Ranch Together, Assn. of Women in Water, Energy and Environment, Executive MBA Program at the UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business, mentor for women in science, technology, engineering and math

Immediate family members: Parents, brother

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. Our residents and business owners should feel safe and know that their homes and property are protected in Costa Mesa. We must reverse the rise in homelessness, remove negligent sober-living operators and reduce crime so our community members both enjoy and invest in Costa Mesa.

2. Recent development decisions, including excessive variances granted to developers, have strained neighborhoods and infrastructure. We must focus on smart development that protects current residents and neighborhoods, encourages a diverse housing stock and adequate open space, addresses traffic and parking constraints and considers trends in technology, mobility and sustainability.

3. As with any business or project, [limited] availability of resources constrains our ability to implement solutions. We must ensure a balanced budget and long-term fiscal stability of the city while addressing public safety, quality of life and other city issues.

Rebecca Trahan

Age: 43

Professional occupation: Finance executive and professional athlete

Education: Bachelor of Arts in political science and telecommunications

Time lived in the city: Five years and seven months

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Wilson Street between Harbor and Newport boulevards, five years and seven months

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Costa Mesa Finance and Pension Advisory Committee, Costa Mesa Housing and Public Services Grant Committee; congressional staff member, mayoral campaign director, gubernatorial campaign staff member; International Orphan Care, World Vision, Women Helping Women, Newport Harbor Costa Mesa Lions Club; USA Track & Field, USA Cycling

Immediate family members: Three

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why?

1. Orange County Needle Exchange Program: While there is a moratorium until 2019, this program still could have been stopped by the council. When council members are more concerned about getting elected than protecting public safety, they need to be replaced.

2. Manipulating the council setup, voters and the election: In this next election, if Allan Mansoor is elected, he and the council majority will have the option to appoint [someone] to his current council seat rather than letting the people elect the best replacement.

3. Lack of transparency and responsiveness: Costa Mesa is a bustling city with residents who love and want to see great things for our city. They are also eager to know the truth of what’s going on in our city and with our city budget and want transparency but are not getting that right now.

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