In the summer of 2020, Costa Mesa resident John Thomas Patton and his then one-and-a-half-year-old son headed to the playground at a local park.
“What did we see when we got there? Caution tape,” Patton said.
They intended to play on the swing and enjoy the summer breeze, but they were stopped dead in their tracks. The city had implemented COVID restrictions in public spaces, which did not allow the use of public facilities.
This prompted Patton to question local officials. But what prompted him to run for Costa Mesa City Council for District 3 in the Nov. 8 election was when he tried to move out a homeless woman living next door to his house.
“It’s a question of quality of life,” he says. “It’s about what this city will look like in 20 years for my three-year-old son and my three-month-old daughter.”
He said it’s critical that organizations that know how to work with mental illness work directly with homeless people to address the problem in the city.
Giving hotel rooms to the homeless will only make the situation worse, according to Patton.
“It’s not compassionate to give them the key to their own room without rules. It is a death sentence,” he said.
Another issue he is concerned about is Measure K, a Nov. 8 ballot initiative by Costa Mesa that would allow mixed-use projects in commercial and industrial areas without first going through a ballot for a vote.
He said he feared if passed it would create unregulated growth of large developments in the city, without the promise of affordable housing.
The measure is “misleading at best,” he said.
He said if Measure K is passed, the cost of living would increase in the district he wants to elect, Districts 3 and 4, where many low-income communities reside.
“It’s going to gentrify District 4, and most of the Hispanic community won’t be able to afford to live in that area,” he said.
If elected, regardless of the outcome of the vote on the measure, he said it was very important for him to represent the will of voters and hold regular town hall meetings.
Patton’s background as a financial adviser has caused him to pay attention to what he calls the city’s financial crisis.
According to city financial records, he is currently $240 million in debt.
A 2021 financial report produced by the city showed Costa Mesa an unrestricted net deficit of more than $240 million, due to budget issues and large debts the city owes.
“[That means] every resident of the town of Costa Mesa should donate $2,200 to the town so we can get out of debt,” he said. “A priority for me is to repay this debt.”
Patton grew up in Orange County and has lived in Costa Mesa for six years with his wife and two children.
“Costa Mesa has long been a wonderful place where families can grow, prosper, and prosper. And I want to make sure it stays that way,” he said.
Patton is running against current Mayor Andrea Marr and Medicare patient advocate Jorge Miron.