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John Stephens enters Costa Mesa City Council race

John Stephens announces candidacy for Costa Mesa City Council

John Stephens, 53, is running for Costa Mesa City Council for a second time since 2012.

(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

John Stephens, a business litigation attorney and longtime Costa Mesa resident, announced his candidacy Tuesday for City Council.

The 53-year-old Mesa Verde resident is running on a platform of rebuilding Costa Mesa’s public safety departments.

He noted the Police Department’s ongoing staffing difficulties — having around 100 available sworn officers, well below the 136 approved in the city budget.

The Fire Department also has about 10 vacancies, Stephens said.


“In the last five years, there’s been a real climate of hostility toward both our police and our fire,” he said.

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If elected, Stephens said he would show the departments, both publicly and privately, a respect that could change “the reputation that we have here of a toxic environment ... we have ground to cover, and we’re not going to do it under the current environment.”

I think my community still needs me ... I can make a difference, a positive influence. I may be needed now more than I was back then.
Costa Mesa resident John Stephens on running for City Council


Stephens, a Costa Mesa resident since 1989, last ran for the five-member council in 2012, narrowly losing one of three open seats to incumbent Councilman Gary Monahan by 155 votes.

This second run, Stephens said, he wants to spend more time listening than talking, as well as walking more neighborhoods to meet with voters.

“I think my community still needs me,” Stephens said. “I can make a difference, a positive influence. I may be needed now more than I was back then.”

Stephens is “keeping an open mind” regarding Costa Mesa First’s petition, which, if approved in November, could force a public vote as a final sign-off on major developments instead of just City Council approval.

He’s friends with Costa Mesa First leadership, but said he is listening to all sides of the debate and doing his own research. He added that he does feel many recent projects have been “more driven by private interests than the public good.”

“You can just go around the city and see development that seems disjointed, not very well thought out,” Stephens said.

He pointed to Poet’s Place, six recently built three-story homes at 2070 Maple Ave. Adjacent homes are only one story.

“There are times of the day that those neighbors don’t see any sun,” he said. “They didn’t move to that.”


Stephens wants Fairview Park kept as a natural, open space and favors infrastructure investment, particularly repaving roads.

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Stephens, a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona and UC Davis’ law school, has been a practicing attorney since 1989. He co-founded his own firm, Stephens Friedland LLP, in Irvine, in 2006.

“We’ve had so many legal issues that have come in up Costa Mesa,” Stephens said. “I definitely think that being a lawyer, I’ll be able to keep us out of those problems.”

He and wife, Amy, have four children, ages 15 to 24.

He’s been involved in his church, St. John the Baptist, as well as coaching youth baseball and softball. Stephens also served for two years on the city’s Pension Oversight Committee.

Stephens serves on the Costa Mesa High School Foundation and is a former board member of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government.

Stephens is the second declared council candidate. The first, Eastside resident Lee Ramos, announced his run in January.


Mayor Steve Mensinger and Councilwoman Sandy Genis are also up for reelection. Monahan is termed out.


Bradley Zint,

Twitter: @BradleyZint



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