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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Meeting the Candidates  

Meeting the candidates -- and other Council Members --  has been ongoing. My initial contact was at an in-home meeting about the charter, which I attended in July as a representative of a homeowners’ association.

First the scary ones

Mayor pro tem Jim Righeimer was reputed to be abrupt and abrasive, often rude, and very pushy, so I looked forward to meeting him in particular.

Steve Mensinger, according to the same blogs, was supposed to be domineering and intimidating. I happen to believe that being intimidated is a choice, and it is one I rarely make, so I was looking forward to meeting him as well. He came bounding in like the large, enthusiastic politician he is, shaking hands and introducing himself to about everyone.

Colin McCarthy was reported to be timid, by these bloggers, and therefore not ready for the City Council. All were linked with the same rope; “the three Ms.”

I found Colin to be forthright, well-informed, and enthusiastic, and he listens well. He also disagrees quite openly on small points with the other two – I cannot see them as a slate of three; although they espoused similar views, and all favored the charter, they differed in some of their opinions.

Mensinger stayed later and answered questions, as did Righeimer. I deliberately provoked each of them but apparently not well; both of them laughed cheerfully and agreed that they sometimes scared people.

(I told Mensinger I’d heard he intimidated everyone, but he looked like a wimp to me – show me the intimidation. He stood on tiptoe, leaned forward and held his breath while his face got red, then lost it and started to laugh. He said, “That’s about the best I can do right now, were you intimidated?”)

(I told Righeimer I’d read he thought he could build an empire through the City Council, so where’s his crown? He started, then genuinely grinned and said he left his crown home because it was wearing a bald spot on his head.)

Righeimer and the Charter don't seem dangerous

Righeimer seemed to have every paragraph of the Charter in memory and could refer up and down and back and forth to its provisions while discussing it with four or five of my neighbors who had printed copies in their hands. They, and I, left comfortable that the proposed charter was sincerely and honestly developed to do what Righeimer believed best for Costa Mesa. I could see no effort to evade, hide, or change subjects as he was questioned. . I don’t believe he was trying to fool or mislead anyone at this meeting.

 I cross-checked two of his assertions against a printed copy while he was answering questions and found that his explanations were accurate and thorough. He was very patient; more patient than I would have been I think, answering the often-repetitive questions. However, he doesn’t suffer fools very well, getting vexed when one man in the audience kept repeating what he had heard at a meeting of an opposing group – even when each claim was discussed and clearly refuted from the copies of the charter. Several of the other neighbors seemed to be getting tired of the repeated unthinking assertions as well.

They're still politicians

All three speakers discussed how much they love the city, the sizes of their families, and their massive contributions through service work. They probably also favor motherhood and apple pie.

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