A district representative for U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has declared his candidacy for the Costa Mesa City Council.
Tony Capitelli, 28, said Monday that he intends to run during the November 2014 general election. He is the first newcomer to declare his candidacy for the five-member council, which will have two open seats next year.
After two four-year terms, Councilwoman Wendy Leece will be prevented from running again. Mayor Jim Righeimer's term will also expire, though he is eligible to run for a second term.
Capitelli, a Republican and Santa Clarita native, lives near the Orange County Fairgrounds with his wife of four years, Julie, who grew up in Newport Beach. The two have lived in the city for about seven years. Newport's mayor, Keith Curry, is his father-in-law.
"I was really attracted to how [Costa Mesa is] this perfect combination of urban lifestyle mixed with suburban lifestyle," he said. "It's a really nice place to raise a family when my wife and I decide to have kids. It offers world-class arts, entertainment — the perfect combination for us."
Locally, he's been involved with homeless issues and the Churches Consortium, which serves the homeless and does other charitable work.
Capitelli has formed a campaign committee and submitted a candidate intent form. In the coming months, he said, he'll be talking with constituents, hearing what they care about and what a future City Council can do for them.
"I'm happy with the transparency, and I support the current council's efforts to revitalize Costa Mesa using budget restraints so we can improve infrastructure," he said. "But I think there are enhanced ways to do that, and I think we really need to push responsible government so that we can increase funds for capital improvement projects and infrastructure spending."
Capitelli works out of Rohrabacher's Huntington Beach office, dealing directly with constituents on Social Security, immigration, water and other issues. "You name it," he said.
"I think that one-on-one opportunity has been attractive to me, as opposed to living in Washington, D.C., and living that lifestyle," he said.
Capitelli has worked for Rohrabacher for about five years, and has also worked for U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita). He was named student body president while working toward his bachelor's degree at Concordia University Irvine. He has a law degree from Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa and, before entering politics, was a sales associate for a patio furniture company.
"One of the reasons I went to law school was to do public service," Capitelli said. "That's what I used it for."