A Few Minutes With John Stephens
After several false starts, last week I was finally able to spend some time with recently-announced Costa Mesa City Council candidate John Stephens at his offices in Newport Beach. We met after hours so the normal hub-bub of a busy law office wouldn't distract either of us from our conversation. His office looks out across John Wayne Airport toward Costa Mesa.
ONE OF NINE
As most now know, Stephens is one of 9 announced candidates for one of the three seats on the Costa Mesa City Council being contested in November. It is widely assumed that this will be a nasty race - a "us versus them" battle, with the OC GOP-supported slate of incumbents Steve Mensinger, Gary Monahan and Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy being challenged by six others so far.
HE JOINED FOLEY FIGHTING THE CHARTER
I know quite a bit about most of the other candidates, having seen them in action before the council or through private conversations with them. All I knew about John Stephens was that he joined former councilwoman Katrina Foley in a legal challenge to keep Jim Righeimer's Charter off the June ballot when a clerical error caused the filing deadline to be missed. They were successful in that challenge, which they mounted on their own, without compensation from anyone. I also knew a little about him from things he's written for local publication recently and from the times he's stepped to the speaker's podium to deliver an opinion to the council.
WEB SITE PROVIDES INFORMATION
You can read Stephens' assessment of himself at his web site, HERE. That will give you the nuts and bolts of his very significant background in Costa Mesa for the past two decades. You'll find references to his professional accomplishments, his education and his family. You'll also find information about his activities with youth sports which, in some circles, seems to be all one needs these days to become a candidate for city council. WILL HE HAVE THE TIME?
One of the concerns I always have about folks who think they want to run for city council is whether they've really thought this through. I always wonder if they will be able to carve out enough time to do justice to the job. Yes, it's a part-time job, but anyone watching council members in action realizes that very few only spend 20 or so hours each week fulfilling the responsibilities of the assignment. Stephens has that issue resolved - if elected he will give up some of his other community activities to make time for his council responsibilities.
HE WANTS CHANGE...
It is unlikely that Stephens would be running for office if he was happy with the direction the city was headed. He shares that concern with many other folks in the city - and most of the other candidates for council. I'm not going to put words in his mouth on this issue. As the campaign season moves forward and we progress to candidate forums we all will be able to hear his reasons and goals in person.
Stephens has become affiliated with the grass-roots organization, Costa Mesans For Responsible Government, HERE. Some of the opposition will attempt to use that as a negative element during the campaign. This campaign is going to evolve as the "us" - the OC GOP-sponsored group - versus "them" - everybody that's not "us". Well, CM4RG is a group of diverse individuals from all political stripes who share a common bond of concern for what is clearly a take-over of our city by extremists from the far right - my Republican Party. I didn't ask Stephens his party affiliation because it's irrelevant - these seats are supposed to be non-partisan.WILL I VOTE FOR HIM?
Will I vote for John Stephens in November? Maybe. I like what I heard from him and will pay close attention to how he handles himself during the campaign. I'm REALLY looking forward to the candidate forums because they will test each candidates knowledge of critical city issues and flush-out their solutions to some of the very significant problems we face.