Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, a grassroots citizens group staunchly opposed to the current City Council majority, endorsed Sandy Genis, John Stephens and Harold Weitzberg for the November election, the group announced Wednesday.
"We are pleased to have three strong candidates who oppose the city charter in its current form and who have the ability to communicate the change needed in Costa Mesa city government," CM4RG President Robin Leffler said in the announcement. "Our endorsed candidates have strong professional backgrounds and thoughtful, common-sense solutions for Costa Mesa."
The group hopes the endorsements will increase the candidates' profiles to offer stiff competition for candidates Councilmen Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan, and Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy, all of whom support the city's current direction and have name recognition among local voters.
"That budget issues need to be effectively dealt with is inescapable," Leffler said. "I think the people we endorsed have the ability and means by fostering a collaborative and respectful atmosphere."
Genis, Costa Mesa's mayor from 1992 to 1994, said the organization's endorsement reflects the candidates' values and can help support a strong election run.
"CM4RG brings to the table an energized citizenry," she said. "I believe very strongly in public participation, so it's right to be endorsed by a group that shows those democratic values."
The residents organization has hundreds of members, and added 51 in the last few weeks, Leffler said. It has a political action committee to funnel money to all three campaigns.
The candidates agreed this election will mark a turning point for Costa Mesa for years to come. From voters deciding on a proposed charter — essentially a city constitution that pools power from the state to the city — to moving forward with outsourcing city services, Costa Mesa's future is in the hands of voters.
"It's unquestionably the most important election in Costa Mesa in the 23 years I've been here," said Stephens, a business attorney. "I think that the most important thing is that we currently in Costa Mesa have a crisis of trust in our leaders, and that we need to get to a point where people believe that the leaders are acting in their best interests and therefore trust them."
Weitzberg, an entrepreneur, said Costa Mesa's image needs to be repaired.
"There is a group that is systematically trying to dismantle the city, I think it's obvious," he said. "I think it's significantly, negatively impacting the value of our city and our quality of life. And I think that needs to change."
CM4RG endorsed the candidates after 48 of its members cast secret ballots. The vote was unanimous for all three.
Business consultant Marshall Krupp, medical marijuana advocate Sue Lester and retired public accountant Al Melone round out the list of council candidates.