Commentary: We must make youth part of the conversation

New Yorker magazine writer Tad Friend examined Costa Mesa's politics in September of 2011 and suggested that Costa Mesa was ground zero for the issues facing many cities in Orange County and across the country.

But why Costa Mesa?

For anyone who has lived here even a short time, the answer is obvious: Costa Mesa has more to offer residents than any other city in Orange County and it is the county's best place to live.

In Costa Mesa there are four schools of higher education. We have enviable weather, close proximity to the coast, one of the country's best shopping malls, a world-class performing arts complex and many other attributes. This past fiscal year the city had a budget surplus, a claim few other cities were able to make during the recent recession.

On Nov. 13, after having served the city in many volunteer capacities, I announced my candidacy for a seat on Costa Mesa's City Council. I want to maintain Costa Mesa's fiscally responsible path, while trying to heal the divide that has separated neighbors.

These are not mutually exclusive concepts, although those with narrow agendas will tell you otherwise. I believe the city can heal and remain safe and financially stable at the same time.

To achieve these goals simultaneously, I have been doing, and will continue to do more of the one thing that is needed any time there is disagreement: I plan to talk less and listen more. As I walk the precincts of Costa Mesa, I have been listening to residents and when I speak, it is most often to ask a question instead of make a statement.

One of the most popular subjects on the minds of Costa Mesans is arguably the most important subject we need to address. Many of the people tell me they are concerned about youth. Not just their own, but all of the youth of the city.

They want to know how we are going to attract and keep the future generations of Costa Mesans that we need to help keep the city vibrant. And they want to know what more the city can do to bring out the best in the children who already live here.

As an involved father and longtime involved resident, I am ready to develop the plans we need to secure the legacy of this great city.

Every great city has challenges, and Costa Mesa is no exception. These challenges come with the territory and whether the disagreement is over public safety, pensions, development, schools or taxes, the one common element to resolving all of them is greater communication.

Finding common ground through improved communication benefits everyone and will be a hallmark of my campaign.

Longtime Costa Mesa resident LEE RAMOS is a member of the Charter and Fairview Park Citizens Advisory committees. He is a candidate for City Council.

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