As a Newport-Mesa school board member, I know first hand how important it is to be able to work collaboratively with colleagues and staff to explore solutions and address issues. I strongly believe that an effective board/council isn’t made up of like-minded people but with those possessing different points of view.
Discussing commonalities as well as differences leads to discovering better solutions, and working together in a professional manner leaves everyone feeling heard and part of the outcome — even if they don’t always agree. In my opinion, this is how the best decisions are made. In our community of Costa Mesa, we have a variety of opinions and priorities and those should be reflected by the makeup of our council.
It is vital that our mayor be able to lead this group by setting the tone in how decisions are made for its citizens. While I believe it’s crucial for our mayor to have the experience and background to serve in this important role, it is vital they possess the temperament and qualities of a good leader. The ability to model civility and respectful behavior toward others, listen with an open mind to ideas, operate in an ethical manner, and share the credit for successes with the team is essential in a effective leader.
I believe that Sandy Genis possesses those qualities. In addition to her many years of experience in governance, advocacy and education in city planning, she is currently serving as mayor for the second time. She has maintained good relationships with city staff, businesses, NMUSD and other city partners.
Genis strongly advocates for what she believes to be right and has proven she is an independent thinker able to work with all sides of an issue. Do I always agree with her point of view? No, we differ on certain issues, but I have never experienced anything but respectful discussion from her, even when we disagreed. This opinion is mirrored by her council colleagues that more than not vote differently from her.
Her opponent, while energetic and smart, is lacking in the leadership skills so needed to serve as mayor. Some believe her aggressive behavior is a positive in getting things accomplished — winning at any cost. It is a strategy that serves her well at times but also resulted in her being unseated as mayor, compromising important relationships within the city staff, and impeding her ability to work with community partners.
I believe we need a leader who will bring our community together and ensure all voices are heard and considered. Leadership, civility and teamwork in solving problems is what we in Costa Mesa must demand of our mayor. I will be voting for Genis and ask you to disregard “sides” and vote for what’s best for our city.
Costa Mesa resident Vicki Snell is a Newport-Mesa school board member.