Foley may run for council

Saying she's concerned about public safety and quality-of-life issues in Costa Mesa, Katrina Foley told the Daily Pilot on Friday night that she is strongly considering a run for City Council.

The 46-year-old Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustee last served on the council from 2004 to 2010. She resigned her seat that November, within her second term, to serve on the school board.

Foley, an attorney and a Democrat, would join a pool of three other known council candidates, all Republicans, running in the November 2014 election: Mayor Jim Righeimer, who is up for reelection, Lee Ramos and Tony Capitelli.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece will be termed-out next year after serving two four-year terms. The five council seats are officially nonpartisan.

"The real reason I am motivated is because I feel like I set out to accomplish what I've wanted to accomplish as a school board trustee," Foley said.

Her goals included facility improvements in the Costa Mesa High School zone, "redirecting funding back to school sites" and increasing the budgets for science, athletics and the arts.

Righeimer, elected to the council in 2010 and selected mayor in December 2012, confirmed to the Pilot for the first time that he is seeking reelection.

"I intend to run next year," the Mesa Verde resident said. "I've always intended to run."

Foley, who lives in Mesa del Mar, said she is weighing a council bid because residents are encouraging her to do so. She plans to make a final decision following her fifth annual Holiday Soiree and Benefit from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 4 at Mesa restaurant, 725 Baker St.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Foley's exploratory committee, as well as local charities.

Foley said if she senses enough community support at the event for her council bid, "I'll move forward."

Of her time at Newport-Mesa Unified, "I think I've laid a lot of really good groundwork that I think will allow progress to take place," she said. "And I think I can do more work on behalf of the schools off the school board than on, and I've just had a lot of people — business owners, residents, environmentalists, employees, all the different stakeholders — in our community have encouraged me to run for City Council.

"Mostly, it comes from the residents I see every day when I am at events, school activities or in meetings."

If elected next November, Foley said she will place a high focus on public safety and work to give the Police Department more resources to protect the city. She also pledges to "take the politics out of it" and let public safety administrators implement their plans.

Foley added that she's also concerned about quality of life in the neighborhoods, such as litter on the streets and less-than-clean bathrooms at city parks.

The school board trustee, who also served on the city's Planning Commission, pledged greater autonomy from the council for city employees.

"Mostly, I'd like to let the city manager and his team do their job," she said. "I think they are qualified, and they want what's best for our community. The council needs to be out of the way and let them do their job.

"Basically, I'd carry on where I left off, promoting our city in a very positive light. Some of our business community is tired of all the negative press. We have some great opportunities and great neighborhoods. It's such a great city, and you only hear about how horrible it is."

Steve Mensinger, now the mayor pro tem, was appointed in January 2011 to serve the remainder of Foley's term following her resignation. Mensinger then won his four-year term during the 2012 election.

Ramos, 70, has lived in Costa Mesa nearly his entire life.

If elected, he would be the council's first Latino representative in the city's 60-year history. He lives in the Eastside and serves on the city's Charter Committee and Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee.

Ramos announced his candidacy earlier this month.

Capitelli is a district representative for U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). The 28-year-old lives near the fairgrounds.

He is a Whittier Law School graduate and was named student body president at Concordia University in Irvine, where he earned a bachelor's degree.

Capitelli told the Pilot in August of his intentions to run for the five-member council.

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