Asked how they planned to vote on Measure V, his wife, 26-year-old Janet Holloway said, "They mailed us something home, but I didn't get to read it." She dipped a fry in ketchup and shrugged.

Both said they planned to vote, but they hadn't yet decided for whom.

"People care, but people need to get involved," the young husband said. "I don't even know who's running for council."

Others say the constant bickering is exhausting.

Jim Mansfield, 70, who sat with his old friend Jack Hartel outside Starbucks on Thursday, said he's walked neighborhoods for CM4RG.

As a Costa Mesan since 1978, he remembers "some elections back in the '80s" as being contentious, but the charter has added another dimension to the conflict.

"I think the current council has been way too political about it," he said. "They don't have to go on TV or grandstand to get their point across."

Hartel, 68, said he moved to Minnesota in 2009 after living in Costa Mesa for 35 years. He said he feels "sorry for [his] grandkids, if it keeps going like this."

While his new hometown of Maple Grove is "pretty quiet" as far as local elections go, in general, "this is the worst political climate that I can remember. It's not productive."

He gestured to Mansfield.

"You and I aren't in the same pockets on everything, but we have a right to say it, and we listen to each other," Hartel said. Mansfield nodded.

Across the parking lot, Alverta Landis, 75, chatted between drags from a cigarette outside Target. She said she's lived in Costa Mesa for almost 20 years and she follows politics extensively.

From day one of campaigning, Landis said, she's known "without a doubt" who she's voting for: Mitt Romney.

"Gotta get the 'Bummer out of there," she said, adding that she plans to vote only for Republicans.

As for the local elections — well, she'll figure that out on election day.

"I know everything, but those parts, I haven't decided yet," Landis said. "Whoever's doing the best job."

jill.cowan@latimes.com; bradley.zint@latimes.com

Twitter: @TheDailyPilot