Costa Mesa City Council District 1

The Costa Mesa City Council election will take place during the general municipal election on Nov. 3. The elected council members will serve a four-year term.

The following profiles highlight the background and qualifications of each candidate for Costa Mesa City Council District 1, as well as how their election may impact the Orange Coast College community. 

Costa Mesa City Council District 1

Candidate: Don Harper

Why are you running for this office?

“My wife and I raised our children in Costa Mesa, our home of 22 years. We love Costa Mesa, where I have been active in our community,” said Harper. “We all want a safe, clean and well managed city in which to live and raise our families.”

Harper is running to help make Costa Mesa a “great place for the entire community.”

He aims to achieve this by bettering the city’s financial management, battling homelessness and improving parks, streets and curbs, amongst other measures. 

“As your representative, I will fight for you,” Harper said.

What qualifies you for this office?

“As a business owner who started my career as a CPA, I know what it takes to create jobs, balance budgets, and battle government red tape,” Harper said.  “Having been a city commissioner, I know how to make the government run more like a business.”

Harper has extensive experience in business and finance, having served as chief financial officer for two multi-billion dollar companies along with co-founding two businesses. He leads a team that distributes renewable, clean fuel to companies throughout California. 

“I love Costa Mesa. I’ve been active in our community,” he said. As well as being involved with several local committees, Harper is also a coach, and a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club. 

Why would an OCC student vote for you?

“Family, friends and community along with personal freedom are what I value the most,” Harper said. We all want a safe, clean and well managed city in which to live and raise our families.”

To OCC students, Harper advises that “most importantly, look for a candidate that will represent your interests and not interests of special groups.”

How can I find more information about your candidacy?

Students can find more information on Harper here.


Candidate: John Stephens

Why are you running for this office?

John Stephens is running for reelection. He has served on the council as Mayor Pro Tem (who serves as Mayor temporarily if unable to serve) since 2016. 

What qualifies you for this office?

“I’ve lived in the city for 31 years,” Stephens said. “I’m an experienced business trial attorney.  I own my law firm, which is based in Costa Mesa.  I have been volunteering in the community for many years, including coaching youth sports for 18 years.”

The list of accomplishments Stephens and his fellow city staff have achieved in his first term include early action to the COVID-19 crisis. Early action in Costa Mesa included tenant relief, business assistance and mask mandate.

Other notable achievements include helping the homeless by opening a homeless shelter in 2019, getting permanent housing for 160 people; aiding public safety by increasing police and fire staffing; and initiating a no-kill animal shelter that has been successfully taking care of its animals, boosting a 94% live release rate. 

Stephens has also helped support local businesses, taken measures to make Costa Mesa more environmentally friendly, such as mandating compostable materials at City facilities. and improved local infrastructure by supporting projects such as the Lion’s Park Project. 

Why would an OCC student vote for you?

In my first term on council, I have accomplished a lot along with my fellow council members and city staff,” Stephens, who has served on city council since 2016. “While we have many achievements, our work is never finished. We must keep moving forward.”

As a father of four kids aged 19-28, Stephens also is understanding of what it’s like to be a young adult these days.

To OCC students, Stephens said to “vote for candidates with the background and experience to address difficult issues and have a history of public service to the community. Support candidates who are passionate and compassionate.”

How can I find more information about your candidacy?

More information about Stephens can be found here.


Candidate: Jason Komala

Why are you running for this office?

Komala was “inspired to run as a public servant, not a politician” by the “divisiveness seen in the country the last few years, which goes against my nature as a lifelong teambuilder.”

“I am inspired by our community,” Komala said., “[I am] driven by a vision to create a bright future for my newborn son, and fueled by hope.”

What qualifies you for this office?

Komala graduated from California State University Fullerton with a BA in management and a MBA in organizational leadership. He has served on the Costa Mesa Cultural Arts Committee, collaborating on various projects to support local artists in the community. 

Komala is also an independent candidate. “I am not accepting any donations and am 100% funding my own campaign,” Komala said. “This will also ensure that my leadership integrity is free from the coercion from special interest groups and political action committees, making me accountable only to the citizens of Costa Mesa.”  

Why would an OCC student vote for you?

“I am a candidate who values long-term and sustainable results,” Komala said. “Education is one of the key areas that often gets overlooked when evaluating candidates because it usually does not net immediate results. I always think of the shade we enjoy from a tree, someone before us had to plant the seed and nurture it for us to enjoy it.”  

Komala explains how this will extend into his work on the City Council-

“As a leader, I view education as not only what you learn in the classroom, but the life lessons you learn as well, such as time management, collaboration and the ability to adapt thinking based on new or evolving information,” Komala said. He believes this could help repair the broken relations in our government. 

Komala voted yes on Proposition 18, which will be on the ballot on Nov. 3 to amend the California Constitution to allow 17-year olds to vote in primary and special elections if they will turn 18 before the next general election. 

“This gives our young adults the opportunity to have a voice in the world they will inherit and Generation Z will inherit the world that is being left behind today,” Komala said. “Allowing our youth to be vested early will be a service to our democracy and our future”

To OCC students, Komala said “get involved and vote!”

How can I find more information about your candidacy?

More information can be found about Komala’s candidacy here.

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