While I was a student at Estancia High School, I never expected that I would become mayor of Costa Mesa. It has been a great honor and a tremendous learning experience, and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to serve my neighbors. I am grateful for all the support I received during my campaigns, and I am grateful to everyone who participated in the spirited debates that helped make Costa Mesa better.
The most important thing I've learned is that small groups of people acting locally can make a difference even when addressing issues that are normally considered state or federal problems.
Many of today's problems were created or made worse because good people stood around waiting for others to fix things. It's up to me and you and all of our neighbors to do what we can to make our community better. Small, local improvements are always better than doing nothing.
We were able to remove more than 1,300 criminals from Costa Mesa streets when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was placed in our city jail. This was a small, local change to an area of federal policy that made Costa Mesa's streets safer.
Similarly, declaring that Costa Mesa is a "Rule of Law" city has set the stage for future policy discussions on this topic. We are continuing to cooperate with ICE and are taking the first steps toward implementing an E-Verify system. These reforms are small examples of ways that cities can make substantive reforms in policy areas that have traditionally been reserved for state and federal government.
During the November election, Jim Righeimer addressed pension reform. Many people said pension reform was a state issue that should not be addressed locally. Baloney. While I intend on addressing this issue in Sacramento, the process is slow. Unfunded pension liabilities could drive California cities into bankruptcy before meaningful reform is passed in Sacramento. It is imperative that local leaders enact local reforms to protect their cities, and I intend on doing what I can to make that process easier.
I recognize that many people opposed our efforts to reform illegal immigration policy in Costa Mesa. The attacks against Righeimer's pension reform policies show that he will face similar opposition. Positive changes are always met with resistance from those who support the status quo.
I'm glad that Costa Mesa residents have affirmed their commitment to reform by electing representatives who are willing to fight to make our city stronger. I expect that Jim will face increased opposition to his efforts to fix Costa Mesa's pension problem, and I will encourage him to stand his ground.
This will be my last Daily Pilot commentary as mayor of Costa Mesa. But I will continue to serve our community from the state Legislature. I'm looking forward to addressing these issues from a different perspective.
I would like to close by congratulating Righeimer and Councilwoman Wendy Leece on their election and reelection, respectively. I expect that they will be joined by a new member when Councilwoman Katrina Foley steps down to take her seat on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education.
I want to encourage all of them to not shy away from the difficult issues facing our city. I know they will face resistance from those who have an interest in keeping things the way they are, but Costa Mesa residents are counting on them to make the city stronger for future generations.
ALLAN MANSOOR is mayor of Costa Mesa. He was recently elected to represent the 68th District in the state Assembly.