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Costa Mesa mayor resigns post but keeps seat on City Council

March 9, 2012 | 10:42 pm

Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan

Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan announced Friday that he will step down from his post but will retain his seat on the City Council.

His resignation from the largely ceremonial position is effective Tuesday.

"Being mayor and all the additional duties takes a lot of time and has taken me away from my family and my business," Monahan told the Daily Pilot. "I'm not giving my family what they deserve, and the city what it deserves."

Monahan leaves halfway through his third nonconsecutive term as mayor, a two-year position that rotates among the five council members.

"It was more intense, more controversial," he said of the last year when compared with his earlier mayoral terms. "I'm glad I did it. But you know, it's taken its toll."

His reputation among council watchers and city employees took a major hit on St. Patrick's Day last year -- the busiest day of the year for his Costa Mesa business, Skosh Monahan's -- when Monahan elected to remain working at his bar after a 29-year-old city worker who was expecting a layoff notice jumped to his death from atop City Hall.

Monahan later apologized for not being there to help the city cope with the death of Huy Pham. Many critics still bring up Monahan's response to Pham's suicide at public meetings.

Monahan has also missed several council meetings in the last year and left early from others. Much of his time at the dais has been playing referee among his fellow council members.

"Gary's given a lot of time and effort to the city, but clearly with the economy the way it is, he's got to spend more time with his business," said Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, who observers predict will be the next mayor when Monahan's successor is appointed during a special meeting Tuesday. "He's getting pulled in different directions. And how is he going to support his family without a business?"

Some residents said Monahan's resignation was a long time coming.

"It wasn't a complete surprise. It was something that a number of people predicted," said Perry Valantine, assistant treasurer for Costa Mesans for Responsible Government. "The speculation was at some point Gary would step down, and Jim would become mayor, because that's kind of the role he's been playing, really."

Monahan said he will seek reelection to the council in November.


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Photo: Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan says he will step down Tuesday. Credit: Kent Treptow / Daily Pilot