Commentary: Voters want ‘clean, safe, peaceful, quiet places to live’
I grew up in Costa Mesa and have lived here most of my life, growing up in Mesa Verde, living on the Eastside and then later buying a house on the Westside. While working as a deputy for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in the early ‘90s, I wanted to buy a house and found one on the Westside of town that was in my price range.
The home was a fixer-upper, but I felt that it had unlimited potential, and I was working on a budget.
A person’s home is supposed to be his castle. Clean and safe, peaceful and quiet. But, one of the first things I noticed was that, from 9 in the morning until 10 at night, vending trucks went back and forth every half hour in the alley behind my house, with their horns blaring. And, people were parking their cars on the street in front of my house, opening their doors and dumping their trash.
I called the police and code enforcement, but not much happened to improve the situation. I wrote a letter to both the police chief and the City Council. I got a nice letter back, but nothing really changed.
Meanwhile, I was putting all of this time and money into my house. I wanted a response from my local government, but I wasn’t getting one. Never had I been to a City Council meeting, but I went. And I spoke up.
I met people who were similarly concerned about their community and their quality of life. I said to some of them, “The only way we’re going to get anything done is for one of us to get elected to the City Council. I’m willing to support any one of you who wants to run.” No one did. The response I heard was, “We want you to run.”
So, without really thinking about what I was getting myself into, I ran in 2002.
I hadn’t been active in the political scene. I didn’t know anything about running for office. I ordered a booklet from the Internet about how to run a political campaign. The booklet said not to talk about a million things. Instead, talk about three.
I choose three things I knew were important to the citizens in the community: (1) roads and infrastructure, (2) crime and quality of life, and (3) traffic.
Then, I walked the city, knocking on doors. When I began giving one little old lady my stump speech, she said, “Hold on a second. I just want one thing.” She walked me out to the street in front of her house, pointed to a pothole, and said, “I just want that fixed.” It all boiled down to that.
I knew I had put my finger on the pulse of the community. What people really wanted city government to do for them was improve the neighborhoods in which they lived. They wanted clean, safe, peaceful, quiet places to live. Who doesn’t want that?
I have worked diligently on behalf of Costa Mesa residents for the past decade, as councilman, mayor and California assemblyman.
Today, I want to continue the work I started back in 2002. Costa Mesa residents will face a clear decision this fall: Do we continue the improvements we are making in Costa Mesa? Or do we stop the revitalization process and invite more crime into our city?
There are clear differences between me and some of my opponents. I support giving our police chief the resources he needs to keep us safe, but simply hiring more police does not equate a reduction in crime.
Due to Proposition 47 (which reduced many felonies to misdemeanors), and Assembly Bill 109 (which sends state prisoners back to county jail), we are seeing more releases due to overcrowding. Many parolees and criminals call Costa Mesa home, due to the abundance of obsolete motels in our city. And, when crimes are committed, they are now just cite- and-release tickets. So, the only real way to reduce crime is to remove the obsolete motels by repurposing them.
We need to continue the leadership shown these past six years. Together, we can continue to improve Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa City Council candidate ALLAN MANSOOR is a former mayor and state assemblyman.