By Steve Smith
9:04 PM PDT, October 2, 2012
With about a month to go until Election Day, most voters have made up their minds about which candidates they'll choose and which referendums they'll accept or reject.
Many of those people made up their minds a long time ago for the wrong reasons. For example, they support or reject a charter for Costa Mesa based on the people who proposed it or support it instead of whether it is good for the city.
Those same people want to talk about fleeting, surface issues, such as personalities, instead of engaging in meaningful dialogue that focuses on the long term health of the city. They do this because talking about people is easy.
Talking about issues and ideas is hard.
Is the charter good for Costa Mesa? The answer is that there is really only one way to find out, and that is to approve it. Unlike other hot topics, such as Banning Ranch, the charter is reversible, that is, should it prove to be a bad idea, it can be eliminated by another vote of the people.
Discussing issues and ideas is important, but today, it is time to discuss a person, one candidate who is not only willing to take a deep dive into issues and ideas, but whose 27 years in Costa Mesa have been filled with community activism and a willingness to do the heavy lifting, whenever and wherever it is needed.
Last year, Costa Mesa City Councilman Steve Mensinger was appointed to the position he is now trying to maintain through the election process.
His appointment was not a political payback, not a scheme and not part of a nefarious plot to take over the city. Mensinger was appointed because he has the ability and the intent to make Costa Mesa the best city in Orange County.
Mensinger's ability comes from his professional position, that is, he is able to invest the enormous amount of time required to help run the city because he is in control of his own schedule and he has extensive executive experience, which is key to managing Costa Mesa's people and policies.
More important is Mensinger's intent, which is determined by his history of civic involvement. There is no intent without a track record of accomplishment, and Mensinger has accomplished much in his nearly three decades here. His greatest accomplishment has been his hands-on involvement in the football program at Estancia High School, which has improved both the team and the school.
Mensinger's critics harp on the fact that he has been making important decisions without actually having been elected to office, and not whether his decisions have been good for the city. Those same people prefer to talk about Mensinger's personality instead of Mensinger's vision. They have been taking the easy route for too long.
Those critics also want to tie Mensinger directly to a vote on the charter. They want to make the charter the deciding factor in the city council races, but as a voter, you can have it both ways: You can vote for Mensinger and against the charter, if you wish.
Over coffee about a year ago, Mensinger said, "I don't care where a good idea comes from."
Neither do I.
STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.