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Jim Fitzpatrick stands in front of Costa Mesa City Hall in 2012 to talk about political signs that were destroyed throughout the city. (Bradley Zint / DAILY PILOT / October 25, 2012)

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  • Costa Mesa, CA, United States

Costa Mesa's chief executive has formed an internal elections committee that will review and address complaints as they arise during the City Council campaign this fall.

City CEO Tom Hatch convened a similar committee for the 2012 general election, according to a news release.

This year's committee will comprise about six people from Hatch's office, the city clerk's office, human resources and code enforcement. An outside attorney, to be paid $224 an hour, will serve as a consultant.

"In an abundance of caution, I've created this committee so that the city can deal with any election complaint fairly, quickly and objectively," Hatch said in the release.

The 2012 committee, which met about 10 times, primarily dealt with campaign sign issues, like the legality of their placement and size, said city spokesman Bill Lobdell.

The 2012 general election season was marred by significant sign vandalism. Steven Charles White, a city maintenance worker at the time, was charged in one incident but acquitted of misdemeanor vandalism.

White no longer works for the city.

An organizer with Costa Mesans for Responsible Government said during the 2012 election season that 200 to 250 of the community watchdog group's signs were stolen or destroyed. Another group, the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn., reported damage to its signs from what appeared to be a knife.

Concerns can be raised by calling the city clerk's office at (714) 754-5221. A form will be available on the city's website in the future.