A panel of journalists from various Orange County news outlets plan to interview candidates for Costa Mesa City Council at the fourth installment of the Feet to the Fire Forum series.
Six of eight candidates for three open seats in November are expected to attend the round-table discussion Sept. 5.
They are Councilmen Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan, Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy, former Mayor Sandy Genis, attorney John Stephens and businessman Harold Weitzberg.
Candidates Al Melone and James Rader do not plan to participate. Rader has dropped out of the race, although his name remains on the ballot.
The candidates attending are split into two ideologically opposed camps.
Mensinger, Monahan and McCarthy are called the “3Ms,” due to the first letters in their last names and their similar politics. They support the current City Council majority’s plans to outsource public employees.
Genis, Stephens and Weitzberg have the backing of a community group, Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, which would like to turn back the outsourcing plans. They are considered a political slate in strong opposition to the council majority.
Melone is running independent of both groups.
The Feet to the Fire Forum is a series of informal, political discussions in the Newport-Mesa area organized by Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia and Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis. They will be joined by Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, Voice of OC Editor Norberto Santana Jr., Newport Beach Independent Editor Roger Bloom and Daily Pilot columnist Jack Wu.
Feet to the Fire forums lack some of the traditional pillars of debate, such as opening and closing statements, pre-written questions on blue cards and audience participation. Much of the conversation is impromptu, which Venezia and Canalis say can divert candidates from scripted talking points.
“I’m really pleased with how the public has embraced the Feet to the Fire concept,” Venezia said. “I think our political discussions help voters not only understand the issues, but give a glimpse into the candidate’s personalities and that might be the most important thing we deliver.”
“What we’re aiming for here is candor,” Canalis said. “We try to ask questions in a way that moves candidates away from what they planned or are expected to say and let the voters know where they truly stand.”
Feet to the Fire 4 will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa.