With two open seats on the Irvine City Council, and Mayor Donald Wagner seeking re-election, Irvine voters will be making a dramatic choice on Nov. 6th: to maintain a pro-developer Council majority under Mayor Wagner… or to elect a new pro-resident Mayor and City Council.
Ed Pope, who chaired the historic NO on B campaign last June, is challenging Wagner for Mayor of Irvine. Pope, a longtime Irvine resident, and a retired award-winning Orange County High School Teacher of the Year, has been campaigning since August, taking his case to Irvine voters. At a recent campaign gathering, Pope said: “Every City election is important in its own way. But, I truly believe Irvine is at a crossroads. If we don’t replace Wagner and elect a new pro-resident City Council majority, we are going to seriously damage our City and our quality of life with uncontrolled growth, development and traffic.”
Speaking to supporters at a house party, Pope continued: “That’s why I decided to run for Mayor, putting together our NO on B Team of Three that includes businesswoman Jaci Woods and urban planner Frank McGill, who are running for City Council.”
The NO on B Campaign
Pope, Woods and McGill were all leaders in the NO on B referendum campaign. Measure B was the major zone change ordinance — put forward by Wagner and developer FivePoint — to actually replace the carefully planned 125-acre Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park with nearly 1 million square feet of office, industrial, and apartment development, bringing an added 10,000 cars and trucks to northern and central Irvine every day.
On June 5th, in what was plainly a voter revolt, the Wagner-FivePoint development scheme was defeated by Irvine voters, 63% to 37%, despite the fact that FivePoint and their developer allies spent more than $1 million pushing Measure B on the Irvine electorate.
The Last Straw and The Campaign Ahead
Since the election, Wagner and his pro-developer City Council majority have refused to honor the will of the people and begin construction of the Great Park Veterans Cemetery. According to Pope, an Army veteran, “That was the last straw.” Pope explained, “I talked to Frank McGill, a Vietnam combat pilot, and then to Jaci Woods. I recruited them both to run with me on a pledge that, if elected, we will immediately start building the Veterans Cemetery in the Great Park. At the same time, we would put in place real controls on growth, development and traffic.”
Pope added, “We’re running a grassroots campaign — I’m sure we’ll be outspent at least 10 to 1. But I think we have a good chance of winning, because Irvine voters understand what’s at stake. Developers have controlled the Mayor and Council for years. Now, it’s time to elect a strong pro-resident Mayor and Councilmembers.”
FivePoint spent more than $1 million to elect Wagner in 2016. Most observers believe FivePoint is prepared to spend the same amount all over again — not just to re-elect Wagner, but to support Anthony Kuo, Carrie O’Malley, and Lauren Johnson-Norris for City Council. All three publicly lined up in support of the Wagner-FivePoint Measure B development scheme. FivePoint and their political operatives have seen to it that Kuo and Johnson-Norris have received many thousands of dollars in campaign help.