Council to discuss Foley's upcoming vacancy

COSTA MESA — With Councilwoman Katrina Foley headed to the Newport-Mesa Unified school board, the City Council on Tuesday will discuss options for her filling her seat.

Foley leaves the council Dec. 14, before getting sworn in to the school board.

The City Council must either appoint someone or call for a special election within 30 days.

If an appointment isn't made, a special election could take place with the regularly scheduled June 7 election.

A special election would cost the cash-strapped city at least $200,000, making an appointment more likely.

"I hope whomever gets appointed to my seat will be someone who wants to work with our employees and residents," Foley said. "Someone who is solution-oriented and not just a flamethrower. Someone who will put Costa Mesa first above some political agenda. And of course, someone who will work with me as a school board member to improve our community."

Even before Foley had made up her mind to step down, talk of who would replace her swirled around town.

Many observers say Planning Commissioner Steve Mensinger, who supported Foley's school board bid, is a likely frontrunner.

"Katrina and I have been friends for several years," Mensinger said. "We've both been advocates for schools for our kids and we both have the same instincts on the lack of leadership on the school board, especially from (outgoing board member) Mike Collier. Last year, I started talking to Katrina about running for Mike's seat."

Mensinger denied that he tried to sway his friend in hopes of filling her seat.

Foley, he said, is smart enough to detect ulterior motives.

"Katrina said she'd think about it and weigh all her options," Mensinger said.

"In my opinion, the schools are far more important for the future of families than her two (remaining) years on the council," he said. "What happens to her replacement is really immaterial."

Mensinger said he hasn't given any thought to replacing Foley, but if asked, he would consider it.

Planning Commissioner Colin McCarthy and Jim Fitzpatrick, who was elected Nov. 2 to the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board, are other names being floated as Foley's replacement.

Councilman-elect Jim Righeimer, who serves on the Planning Commission with Mensinger, has said that he'd like to see a fair process that equally weighs all qualified candidates.

In other personnel changes, the council is scheduled to meet in a closed session to discuss filling veteran City Manager Allan Roeder's position.

Roeder plans to retire in March.

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