Commentary: Mensinger is right choice for pro tem

Re. "Commentary: Council should have made Leece mayor pro tem," (Dec. 6): Within hours of the first Costa Mesa City Council meeting of the new term, former city employee Perry Valantine is already complaining about the new council. In his piece, Valantine laments the fact that Councilwoman Wendy Leece was not elected by her peers to serve as mayor pro tem. That ceremonial honor instead went to Councilman Steve Mensinger.

Mr. Valantine has already forgotten that an election happened Nov. 6. Voters elected Mensinger. He captured more votes than Leece in both of her prior elections. He did it by knocking on doors, meeting people for coffee and reaching out to all segments of our city.

But let's look a bit further at these two council members and their qualifications to be our mayor pro tem. They could not be more different in their backgrounds and leadership views.

Mensinger has only been on the council for two years. In that short time, he drafted and implemented the Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinance (COIN) which revolutionizes transparency for council votes on employee contracts and opens that process to the residents.

Mensinger spearheaded the effort to spend millions of delinquent dollars on critical infrastructure needs for our aging city, including major improvements on the Eastside and Mesa Verde. Costa Mesa turns 60 next year and previous council members have ignored our infrastructure needs.

Mensinger authored his "Contract with Costa Mesa," which identifies certain, specific goals he has for the city with a promise to the residents to hold him accountable, not for his words, but for his actions. No other council member in recent memory has done this.

Mensinger championed issues for our schools and athletic community, including leading the Estancia High School Boosters and Costa Mesa Pop Warner football. He organized the most successful Mesa Verde Classic for Costa Mesa United. A group that has invested more than $500,000 in youth athletics in our city. Mensinger's kids attend our public schools.

Leece should be thanked for six years of public service to our community, but many residents, including myself, are asking, what has she done?

It is clear that Leece sees our city through the rear view mirror.

Mensinger views our city through the front windshield. This city deserves elected leaders who have a stake in our future and are committed to making our city better. For that reason, our council wisely chose Mensinger as our mayor pro tem. I hope in two years the council will see fit to elect him as our mayor.

JIM FISLER is a Mesa Water District director. He lives in Costa Mesa.

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