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Barbara Venezia Press Head Shots (Damion Lloyd / / July 11, 2013)

My last several columns have focused on the Newport Beach City Council race and the new crop of candidates there.

This week I turn my attention to Costa Mesa, since candidates in that race will find themselves in hot seats at the Feet to the Fire Forum in six weeks.

Our political talk show format featuring the Feet to the Fire gang of John Canalis and Alicia Lopez of the Daily Pilot, Norberto Santana Jr. of the Voice of OC and Jack Wu of the Orange County Register will take center stage Sept. 18 at Orange Coast College's Robert B. Moore Theatre. (Doors open at 6 p.m.; the forum is from 7 to 8 p.m.)

I checked in with the candidates who have returned their campaign paperwork to the city so far: Tony Capitelli, Katrina Foley, Jay Humphrey, Lee Ramos, Mayor Jim Righeimer and Harold Weitzberg.

The other declared candidates are dog park advocate Al Melone and Banning Ranch advocate Christopher Bunyan. They hadn't yet returned their papers at this writing (Friday is the deadline).

Most of the other candidates are anticipating what should be our biggest forum to date, which is why we're moving it from the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center to OCC.

Having some fun with the candidates, I asked which of their competitors they'd most like to serve with on the council.

Capitelli, Ramos and Weitzberg all sounded like politicians, saying they'd welcome working with anyone.

Humphrey picked Foley.

Righeimer said the conservative candidate he'd like to work alongside is Ramos. On the liberal side, he'd be OK with Weitzberg.

He joked that putting that in print probably wouldn't help Weitzberg's campaign.

Weitzberg ran and lost in 2012, and Humphrey served on the council from 1990 to 1994. I asked both how their experience running for office this time differs.

"There's a greater level of animosity from those that oppose me," Humphrey says.

He says he doesn't take seriously bloggers who've called him a "dinosaur" and "Pollyanna-ish."

Weitzberg says it's a far more crowded field of candidates than last time.

First-time candidates in this race are eight-year resident Capitelli — who is Newport Mayor Keith Curry's son-in-law — and Ramos, who's been in the city since 1947.

Capitelli, who works as an aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), calls himself a fresh voice for residents, while Ramos touts his institutional knowledge of the city as his strong point.

But one candidate, one of the presumed front-runners, in fact, won't be joining us.

Why isn't Foley attending?

She tells me she has a "family commitment" and wasn't aware of the forum date.