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
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.