The incumbent mayor is running for office in Costa Mesa
John Stephens, who was named mayor of Costa Mesa in 2021 to replace Katrina Foley when she was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, is running for mayor in the upcoming Nov. 8 election. His opponent is former state senator John Moorlach.
Stephens has a history of public service and said he enjoys giving back to the city.
“I’m not a politician, it’s just my way of serving the community. It’s no different when the community needs someone to coach softball,” Stephens told The Epoch Times.
Stephens served on city council from 2016 to 2020, followed by a brief stint on its planning commission shortly before becoming mayor. He has also served on the city’s boarding and animal services oversight committees.
“I find this community service very rewarding…it empowers me to do good and really understand what the community needs,” he said.
As chair of the Orange County Homelessness Task Force while a city councilman in 2018, Stephens helped establish what is called a Bridge Shelter, which now provides 70 beds for the homeless. shelter at Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.
Due to lawsuits, Costa Mesa police had previously been prohibited from removing homeless people from camping in public areas because they did not have enough beds in the shelters.
With the help of the new shelter, the police can enforce the rules against encampments in the city.
According to the 2022 count, the number of homeless people has dropped by 20% in Costa Mesa, which Stephens says is one of his greatest accomplishments.
“One thing I am most proud of in my public service was the establishment of our Bridge Shelter in 2018,” he said.
He said the city has also adopted what’s called a Housing First model – which allows a homeless person to enter a shelter with minimal requirements – while other cities may mandate therapy. , counseling or substance abuse issues, as a prerequisite for accommodation. .
“People come in with low barriers, as soon as they’re cleaned they get health checked and then they immediately start working on their housing plan,” he said.
Stephens earned a law degree from UC Davis in 1989, specializing in business litigation. After working in the field for about 10 years, he started his own firm Stephen Friedlands LLP.
According to Stephens, while serving as a Costa Mesa city councilman, his litigation skills came in handy early in the pandemic as the city faced a stark choice.
Federal and state agencies had decided in February 2020 that they wanted to bring 70 infected patients from a cruise ship and quarantine them at the city’s Fairview Developmental Center, which is a large public facility that provides patient care. disabled and elderly.
“We are arresting the federal and state governments. They’re not moving these people to Costa Mesa,” Stephens told colleagues when he learned of the issue.
“It was the City of Costa Mesa against the Department of Justice and the California Attorney General’s Office, and we won,” he said.
At the time, no one knew if the virus was airborne or spreading through surfaces, and the city was unprepared, Stephens said.
“We bravely stood up against the federal government and state governments to protect our residents…I will always remember this as a great story,” he said.
Outside of work, Stephens said he enjoys spending time with his wife Amy and their four children, all of whom graduated from St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Costa Mesa. He has coached youth sports for 18 years and also enjoys playing golf and singing karaoke.
As a lawyer, he has been recognized by various rating entities as a Super Lawyer, one of Orange County’s Top Lawyers, and Best Lawyers of America.
Stephens said he thought he was the best candidate for the seat because the city has a balanced budget, it has an AA credit rating and it has excellent police personnel. and fire.
He also said he has a perfect attendance record.
“I’ve never missed a board meeting in six years,” he says.
But he admitted the city still has a lot of work to do.
“We have to let this team continue to build on the progress we’ve made over the past six years and there’s no reason to change,” he said. “I have served the community diligently and faithfully for so many years and I think another two years would be in the best interests of the community.”
According to the city’s latest campaign contribution deposits, he raised more than $140,000 from Jan. 1, 2021, to Sept. 22, 2022.