In our Election 2016 coverage, Irvine Community News & Views will be conducting occasional interviews with leading candidates for office in Irvine. Our reporters recently caught up with Irvine Planning Commissioner and mayoral candidate Mary Ann Gaido at a backyard meet-and-greet. This was one of many gatherings Gaido is attending as part of what she calls her “neighbor-to-neighbor” grassroots campaign. Gaido spoke for a while and then answered many questions — including a few we’ve reprinted here.
Q. What do you see as the top issue in this campaign?
A. Well, clearly the top issue is growth and development, and the horrendous traffic congestion it’s bringing to our entire City. But, in a larger sense, the real question is whether Irvine voters are ready to elect a Mayor and City Councilmembers with the backbone to stand up to the big developers and stand up for the residents of Irvine.
Q. And just how would you do that?
A. As Mayor, I would be prepared to exercise the broad authority that all mayors and city councils in California have — the power to control residential growth and development…and the traffic it brings. This can be done by adopting policies and ordinances to limit the issuance of building permits and institute a genuine “pause for planning.” Good planning means controlling the pace of growth and development to make sure our infrastructure and our ability to deliver outstanding municipal services aren’t overwhelmed by a pace of growth that’s just too fast. We have done this before in Irvine — in the 1970s when we were just getting started as a City, and then again in the 1980s when we were putting our emphasis on open space preservation rather than fast-paced residential development.
Q. How are you going to finance your campaign?
A. As I’ve said before: I certainly won’t be relying on developer money in my campaign for Mayor. If I can raise $100,000 from small donors — 2,000 Irvine residents donating an average of $50 each — and if we can enlist hundreds of hard-working volunteers, we can win.
Q. What are your views about the presidential campaign?
A. In our local races, I try to stay away from partisanship. But since you asked, I’ll give you a direct answer. I’ll be voting for the Democratic nominee. The alternative, Donald Trump, is simply unacceptable. To be honest, I find Trump’s candidacy appalling. I’m committed to civility in public life. To watch Donald Trump disrespect women and bash immigrants and make fun of disabled people is contrary to everything I believe about leadership in public life. Leaders don’t divide people and drive us apart. Even as we may disagree about public policies, true leaders should speak and work in ways that bring us together.