Now race is over, council can take care of business

The drawn-out finale to the Costa Mesa City Council race ended

quietly last week, and it ended for the best.

Planning Commissioner Bruce Garlich, who spent close to a month

edging closer and closer to colleague Eric Bever, announced he will

not ask for a recount of the race, which Bever leads by 44 votes,

10,139 to 10,095. As a result, Bever will be sworn into office Monday

night, along with Planning Commissioner Katrina Foley and former

Mayor Linda Dixon.

Garlich said his reason was that there was almost no way enough

uncounted votes remained to alter the outcome. That is a thoughtful

and honorable conclusion that not every politician -- as elections

this year and in 2000 attest -- would make.

As a result, Costa Mesa residents will not have to wait to see who

their final leader will be as one, or perhaps a second, recount is

made. There will be no gray area in which decisions made will become

suspect after a change on the dais. That is the best result residents

could have hoped for in such a close contest.

Whether the best candidate won is an entirely separate debate. The

best answer to that question will come as Bever settles into his

position and begins working with his new colleagues and making tough

decisions.

What does make the final result palatable is that both Bever and

Garlich received citywide support. Had Bever's winning margin come

largely in a handful of precincts -- especially precincts in one area

of town -- his legitimacy could be questioned. But his backing, as

well as Foley's and Dixon's, suggests they reached voters from across

the city's wide socioeconomic spectrum. There does not appear to be a

"Mesa Verde candidate," an "Eastside candidate" or a "Westside

candidate." That is a welcome change from past elections.

The council's three new members now have to build on the support

they received. The issues they have to tackle are many: Westside

improvement; growth at John Wayne Airport; a possible bond to pay for

moving utilities underground; the construction of CenterLine;

managing growth. There's no time to waste in making Costa Mesa a

better place to live and work.

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