A coalition of veterans, longtime Irvine residents and university community members have served a “Notice of Intention” to circulate a recall petition to Mayor Christina Shea and Councilmember Michael Carroll.

The “Notice of Intention” was served to Shea and Carroll at the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Bill Barber Memorial Park.  Ironically, since 2014, Veterans Day this year (November 11, 2019) was planned to be the opening date of the Southern California Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the original 125-acre site (the “ARDA” site) at the Great Park.  However, Shea — recently joined by appointed Councilmember Carroll — has continued to conspire with developer FivePoint to delay, derail, and defeat the Veterans Cemetery.

The coalition spearheading the recall effort stated, “Unelected Mayor Christina Shea and her hand-picked, unelected colleague, Councilmember Michael Carroll, serve their own interests and big developers, not the residents of Irvine.  In 2018, Irvine voters overwhelmingly defeated Shea’s Measure B, 63% to 37%.  Yet, Shea and Carroll have stubbornly refused to accept the will of the people.” (Note: Measure B would have replaced the planned and approved Veterans Cemetery at the ARDA site in the Great Park with massive FivePoint commercial development.)

Through a series of backroom deals, in April of this year Councilmember Christina Shea became the first unelected Mayor of Irvine in more than three decades.  She filled the vacancy in the Mayor’s seat when Mayor Don Wagner was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.  Shea immediately went to work behind the scenes with developer FivePoint to get a majority of City Councilmembers to appoint Michael Carroll to her Council seat, entirely avoiding an election.

Since becoming Mayor, Shea has doubled-down on her 5-year crusade to defeat the Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the ARDA site in the Great Park.  Her crusade continues even after the State has budgeted millions to build, operate and maintain the Veterans Cemetery, at no cost to the City of Irvine.  Appointed Councilmember Carroll has joined Shea in refusing to accept the outcome of the 2018 Measure B election.

Steve Berger, an attorney and 40-year Irvine resident told Irvine Community News & Views, “Our current Irvine City Council is beset with very troubling issues — one of the most prominent being the overriding influence and control of giant land developer FivePoint Communities and its main principal, Emile Haddad — over a majority of our City Council, including Mayor Christina Shea and Councilmember Mike Carroll, both of whom are unelected.”

Dr. Kev Abazajian, Professor of Physics & Astronomy at UC Irvine has joined the recall coalition, stating, “Recall is a dire move, but the situation on our City Council is dire.  A single developer, FivePoint, has spent almost three times as much to get Christina Shea elected to her original City Council seat as she managed to raise herself from the community.  We have seen that this favor is being returned with the continued ‘diversion tactics’ to stop the building of the Orange County Veterans Cemetery in Irvine and allow instead for development by FivePoint on that sacred land.”

As Irvine Community News & Views has reported, on July 18, 2019 Shea was caught on video telling a small group of homeowners at the “Pools” clubhouse that she was orchestrating a Council vote to stop the State from building the Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery on the ARDA site at the Great Park by promoting a new, never studied site as a “diversion tactic.”  (That vote took place on July 23, 2019.)  In the same video, Shea revealed that she wants to give a commercial developer, presumably FivePoint, an unprecedented 99-year lease for development projects at the ARDA site.

The planned Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the 125-acre Great Park ARDA site — including key features described in the 333-page Concept Plan —  was approved more than 3 years ago by the State of California (CalVet) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and scheduled to open Nov. 11, 2019.

A timeline for the signature-gathering process for the recall has not been announced, but circulation of the recall petitions is expected to begin later this month.

Official Reasons Given for Recalling Mayor Christina Shea

Mayor Christina Shea serves her own interests and big developers, not Irvine residents.  Recently, in a backroom political deal, then-Councilmember Shea became Irvine’s first unelected Mayor in the past 30 years, when former Mayor Donald Wagner resigned to become County Supervisor.  In 2016, Shea benefitted from more than $100,000 in outside campaign funding from developers to win election to the Council. Once elected, Shea promoted Measure B — the developer-backed scheme to replace the planned, designed, and CalVet-approved Veterans Cemetery on the City-owned “ARDA” site alongside the Great Park with office, industrial and other terrible traffic-inducing development.

In 2018, Irvine voters overwhelmingly defeated Shea’s Measure B, 63% to 37%. Yet, Shea stubbornly refuses to accept the will of the people.  As Irvine’s unelected Mayor, she remains determined to defeat the Veterans Cemetery at the ARDA site in favor of more unwanted development.

To honor the will of the people, build the beautiful Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the ARDA site, and restore integrity to the Mayor’s office, Christina Shea must be recalled, removed from office, and replaced by an elected Mayor who puts the interests of Irvine residents first.

Official Reasons Given for Recalling Councilmember Michael Carroll

In a backroom political deal, Christina Shea became Irvine’s unelected Mayor on April 3, 2019. Six weeks later, Shea voted to appoint Michael Carroll to fill her vacated seat on the City Council. This two-step maneuver enabled Michael Carroll to become an Irvine City Councilmember without Irvine voters having any say in the matter.

Since his appointment to City Council, Carroll has worked to defeat the long-planned, designed, and CalVet-approved Veterans Cemetery, which would be State-built and State-operated on the City-owned “ARDA” site alongside the Great Park. Carroll ignores the will of the people, aligning himself with Shea and developers and their scheme to replace the planned Veterans Cemetery on the 125-acre ARDA site and pave the way for massive development and added traffic.

Irvine residents deserve to have an elected Councilmember who is beholden to the people rather than beholden to an unelected Mayor and billion-dollar developers. If we ever expect to see the Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery at the ARDA site alongside the Great Park, we must recall and remove Michael Carroll from the City Council and replace him with an elected Councilmember who respects the will of the people.

Irvine Community News & Views will continue to follow this story and update our readers on the latest information regarding the recall campaign.

In the meantime, let us know how YOU feel about the effort to recall the two unelected members of the City Council (Mayor Shea and Councilmember Carroll).  Click here to take our latest Irvine Community Poll.

ICNV Staff

ICNV staff writers are local Irvine journalists who are personally familiar with the events and issues they write about.
ICNV Staff