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Mansoor Fails to Win Police, Fire Endorsement

The Costa Mesa mayor, who is also a deputy, is controversial for pushing a police role in immigration law. Two rivals win the backing.

September 22, 2006|Jennifer Delson | Times Staff Writer

Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor, who also works as an Orange County sheriff's deputy, has failed to receive the endorsement of the city's police and fire associations in his reelection bid.

The two associations have endorsed Mansoor opponents Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer for the two council seats in November's City Council election.

Mansoor's anti-illegal immigration policies have been a focal point of the city elections.

Officials with the Costa Mesa Police Assn. couldn't be reached for comment, but their Tuesday endorsement letter to Garlich said, "We share your vision for a better city for all and are proud of your strong support of law enforcement."

The letter didn't mention whether the Mansoor's push to have city police enforce immigration laws in some circumstances was a factor in endorsing his opponents.

But Mike Hastert of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. called the mayor's idea to involve police in immigration matters "the most polarizing issue in my 22 years in Costa Mesa."

Garlich and Scheafer are "trying to build consensus," Hastert said, "and would work better with other members of the council shaping the future of Costa Mesa on multiple issues instead of just one issue."

The endorsements come months after a coalition of influential former local politicians, residents and businesses -- among them C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, the family business that owns South Coast Plaza -- formed a coalition, Return to Reason, to unseat Mansoor and defeat Wendy Leece, another council candidate who shares some of Mansoor's views.

Besides Mansoor's, the other council seat in the election is held by Gary Monahan, who is being term-limited out of office.

Mansoor denied any connection between this week's endorsements and his stance on illegal immigration.

Instead, he said, police association leaders "are now paying me back" for his support of an unsuccessful statewide ballot measure, Proposition 75.

That measure would have required unions to ask members' permission before being able to use dues for political purposes.

The measure would have affected members of the Costa Mesa associations, which act like unions but do not have formal affiliations to established labor organizations.

Garlich says the backing he won from the police and firefighters should send a clear message about Mansoor's immigration strategy.

"I think it's unusual that a police association wouldn't back an incumbent," he said.

"I think it's more unusual that a police [association] wouldn't back an incumbent who is a cop.

How much clearer does [the message] have to get?"

Police in cities across the state have balked at enforcing immigration laws.

Many Costa Mesa police officers privately say they oppose Mansoor's plan because it would alienate undocumented residents, who would then be too afraid to report crimes.

Mansoor's campaign got a financial boost this week from George Argyros, former ambassador to Spain, who hosted a small, private fundraiser on the mayor's behalf.

Steve Mensinger, president of Arnell Management, Argyros' real estate company, said Argyros endorsed Mansoor in his first bid for council and reiterated his support because the mayor "has done a great job."

Immigration, Mensinger said, "is not the issue in this election.... We support candidates that are strong leaders who are conservative and careful with the taxpayers dollars, and Allan is one of those guys."

jennifer.delson@latimes.com

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