Church hosts City Council candidate forum

COSTA MESA — Residents will get a chance Wednesday to hear first-hand from the candidates competing to represent them on the City Council.

The Mesa Verde Community Inc., a homeowners' association, will host the 2010 electoral season's first City Council candidates forum at the Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, 1701 W. Baker St.

Four of the five people running for City Council plan to participate in the 6:30 to 9 p.m. debate, said Robin Leffler, the association's chair of government relations.

Candidate Chad Petschl, a salesman, will not be attending.

"We believe that it's really important for the people to know who they are voting for, to have a chance to hear their answer, watch them think on their feet," Leffler said. "A lot of people vote for somebody because they think they're a nice person, but they never really find out what they think and whether it's in line with your own philosophy for the city. This is a chance for people to get to know the candidates a little bit."

The four participating candidates are Councilwoman Wendy Leece, who's seeking her second term; Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer; Chris McEvoy, a high school math teacher; and business owner Sue Lester, who is suing the city over its ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The homeowners association, which has staged the forum for years, is usually the first in the community to host a debate.

Darnell Wyrick, the association's president, will moderate the event and ask questions that have not been shared with the candidates or the public.

"We just like to see how prepared they are," Leffler said.

Community members will also be able to ask questions, she said.

Leece said she's prepared and looking forward to the forum.

"It's a great opportunity for Costa Mesa residents to come out and ask questions and give us suggestions and share their concerns," she said.

The homeowners' association does not plan to endorse any of the candidates, Leffler said.

"We feel we represent our neighborhood and the diversity of the opinion here," she said. "What we believe is everybody should exercise their right to vote and it should be an informed vote. That's really important."

The Costa Mesa City Council candidates debate begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, 1701 W. Baker St.

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