It’s without hesitation that TheLiberalOC endorses Veteran and former Teacher Ed Pope for Irvine’s next mayor. As I’m a DPOC Central Committee member, I can’t endorse outside of the local party’s endorsement list and even though the local party can’t tell me how to run this blog (nor can they tell me how to vote), the blog’s endorsements this year will be somewhat limited and Pope’s candidacy for Mayor demands attention.
Pope has lived in the same home in Irvine for 46 years. Pope has been holding events and gets out and talks with voters about his leadership experience in the military and as a teacher and volunteer. He’s a stark contrast to current Mayor Don Wagner, who hasn’t participated in any community forums but is benefitting from Developer IEs to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Pope received the highest number of votes in the Democrats of Greater Irvine’s summer straw poll.
Pope is honest. He listens. He’s seeks common ground. He knows where he stands on issues. He’s not beholden to developer money. If he’s elected, it’s going to be fun to watch how he leads the rest of the council — some who will be openly hostile to him.
The worst part of the 2018 Mayoral race is Wagner really doesn’t want the job; it’s a placeholder so he can have a nice ballot designation when he runs for Todd Spitzer’s seat on the County Board of Supervisors (and if you thought Wagner was an advocate for the homeless as mayor, you’ll see just what Wagner doesn’t do for the homeless as a county supervisor. If you’re a Republican, and can’t bear the thought of voting for Pope, please cast your vote for principled conservative Katherine Daigle. While I disagree with Daigle on virtually every national policy, she’s someone who is immune to developer influence and shares with Pope a belief that public service is to the residents, not developers. Mayor Wagner has forgotten his campaign is a job interview and he’s shown up for it but isn’t answering any questions. So on election day, send Wagner packing so he can concentrate on his 3rd district run for BoS instead of the burden of being Mayor to America’s safest city.
From Pope’s website:
“After college, I proudly served in the United States Army. I was assigned to the Seventh U.S. Army in Germany during the construction of the Berlin Wall and Cuban Missile crises. The years I spent in the military helped to instill the values that continue to shape my life today. The Army taught me a sense of duty, honor and service to my country and my community.
That’s why I saw it as a slap in the face to every veteran in Orange County when Mayor Wagner and Councilmembers Fox and Shea callously voted to abandon years of planning to build the Great Park Veterans Cemetery, rezoning over 125 acres of the iconic El Toro Marine Corps Air Station so that developer FivePoint could build massive commercial projects on the property instead of our Veterans Cemetery.
The Council’s scheme prompted me to join with other Irvine veterans, our families and neighbors to organize the “NO on B” campaign to Save Our Great Park Veterans Cemetery. Through our hard work and help from all across Irvine, we were able to defeat Measure B, with 63% voting NO on B!
Even after the June election, these three Councilmembers refuse to build our Veterans Cemetery. They’ve delayed it indefinitely while appearing intent on finding a way to hand the Great Park property over to FivePoint.
I am running for Mayor because I want to ensure that we have leaders in Irvine who actually listen to voters and ensure that the City keeps its promise to our veterans. If elected, my very first vote will be to immediately begin construction of our Veterans Cemetery at the originally planned, approved and funded site…in the Great Park!
After my time in the U.S. Army, I returned to California, completed my master’s degree, and began my 31-year career as a high school social studies teacher here in Orange County. The decades I spent teaching were incredibly rewarding. It’s a profession that I was proud to be a part of, knowing that teachers have the ability to make a positive difference in our kids’ lives. In addition to chairing my department, I was honored to be named Orange County’s “High School Teacher of the Year” by the Orange County Board of Education. The fact I won the award was great, but what made me most proud was knowing that so many of my students’ parents, colleagues, and community leaders had taken the time to write letters in support of my nomination.
In addition to teaching, I volunteered with local youth and at-risk kids through my association with the Westminster Boxing Club for more than 20 years. I was licensed by the California State Athletic Commission as a professional boxing trainer, serving as director of the club from 1974-1996, where we were able to provide kids in Orange County with alternatives to drugs and gangs.
Let’s face it. We can’t keep electing the same developer-backed candidates and expect them to do what is best for the community they were elected to serve.
Even though Irvine traffic is already at a crisis level, Mayor Wagner tried to rezone 125 acres in the Great Park so that mega-developer FivePoint could build massive commercial projects that would have dumped nearly 10,000 additional cars and trucks onto north and central Irvine streets every day. Can you imagine how much worse our traffic would be if our grassroots “No on B” campaign had not been able to stop the Council’s rezoning scheme?
As a resident, I was angry about the development scheme and the impact on our city’s traffic. As a veteran, I was outraged that the Mayor would callously hand over our long-planned and approved Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park to help enrich a developer. That’s not who we are as a community, which is why I was honored to chair the “No on B” campaign”
Pope did not seek the endorsement of the Democratic Party of Orange County nor the endorsement of the Orange County Young Democrats. Republicans are trying to position Pope as a puppet of former Council member and Mayor Larry Agran. If you met Ed Pope, you know that he’s no one’s puppet. He is Agran’s friend. Even the suggestion that Agran tells people what to do and they do it is something Republicans in the city believe, but most Democrats know this not to be true.
As for Wagner and his slate of Carrie O’Malley and Anthony Kuo, my friends at the Irvine Watchdog blog have done a remarkable job of following the money on the Mayor’s race and city council elections. Please see this link for more.