City of Irvine City Council Candidates 2022
Two years after the highly contested 2020 presidential elections, the 2022 elections are fast approaching. With the blur of national politics, you may not have had the opportunity to look closely at the Irvine city council candidates. With issues such as climate change, Great Park development, and conflicts of interest on the table, Irvine Watchdog requested interviews with all six candidates running for Irvine City Council. Let’s look at where the candidates stand as they compete for two open spots on the current five-member city council.
This is Larry Agran’s 10th run at the city council. Agran has been an Irvine resident since the 1970s and is a familiar face in local politics, serving as city mayor in three non-consecutive terms. Agran also has nearly 24 years of experience serving on the City Council. In addition, with even a run for president under his belt, Agran has experience on the state level as a former legal counsel to the State Senate Committee of Health and Welfare.
Married to UCI pediatrics professor Phyllis Agran, Agran expressed a shared interest in childhood welfare to ensure that “children are raised in a safe, healthy environment in a way so that they have a maximum opportunity in succeeding in life.”
Agran is a frequent dissenting vote among his colleagues, specifically noting his lone commitment to an official condemnation of the American Asphalt Plant and replacing it with an open space/conservation center on the 10 acres of land up there, along with a wildfire education monitoring/protection center.
In our interview, Agran also voiced concern regarding the city’s switch to OCPA, believing that the organization needs an overrule in leadership and that the city needs to adopt a back-to-the-basics climate change approach to achieve its broader goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.
“The OCPA, which had promised to deliver greener electricity at a cheaper price than SCE, with full transparency. All three promises have been broken,” Agran said. “What we have to do now is to modernize our transportation fleet further away from fossil fuel, bring about forestation and do the hard work to become carbon neutral by 2030. There’s a big difference between declaring something as a goal and doing the hard work it takes to achieve it.”
Agran enjoys traveling with his wife, Phyllis, in his free time and researching the ordinances of cities in California and beyond.
“I love to understand what other cities in the world are doing. What are they doing to deal with all kinds of problems like climate change? What are they doing to improve public safety? What measures are they taking to beautify their cities and make them more attractive to people?” Agran said. “Irvine is a terrific city, but I like to spend a lot of time understanding those cities that are doing a better job than we are in certain areas so that we can implement similar policies here.”
Agran has emphasized his commitment to maintaining the “safest, smartest and greenest city in the United States of America.”
Scott Hansen is a technology attorney and mentor who has raised two kids through preschool through 12th grade in the Irvine school system. Hansen is married to a Spanish teacher at University High School and has served on all local boards.
As former chair of the Irvine Unified School District’s Finance Committee, Hansen now serves as the Vice Chair of the Irvine Transportation Commission, appointed by Mayor Farrah Khan. He is also president of the Turtle Rock Homeowners’ Association in Turtle Rock and joyously notes there are “very low dues and very few rules.”
Hansen’s “aha” moment in joining the race was when he asked his children to take personal finance courses, in which they mapped their financial future with their prospective careers, incomes, and expenses.
“My daughter was doing this, and she said, ‘Dad, I can’t make the numbers work out to move back to Irvine,’ even though she was born and raised in Irvine,” Hansen said. “I want Irvine to focus on building the kind of housing units our young professionals can aspire to own. We’re at a critical time in Irvine where the state is requiring Irvine to build thousands more units, so this is our chance to say to the developers, ‘Okay, we will give you permission to build more housing units, but you have to put a big emphasis on affordability.’
Hansen said he supports a change in the OCPA’s leadership but that pulling the plug on community-choice energy is wrong.
“There are three million people in Orange County, and community choice energy, when it’s done right, makes sustainable energy, so the people don’t have to use their solar panels,” Hansen said. The trouble is that the management of the OCPA needs to be changed. However, the problem is that some say, ‘Alright, OCPA isn’t doing well, so we should pull the plug on community choice energy, and that’s the wrong message because if community choice energy fails in OC now, it could be years before the cities are willing to try it again. That would be a disaster because everyone would continue to use the same old non-renewable energy.”
In his commitment to environmental protection, Hansen also supports reducing wildfire risk through a unique approach: cows.
“We live in hills on the other side of Irvine in Turtle Rock, so we’re right by the hills that have a giant slope filled with dried grass that’s brown most of the year because it’s dry most of the year in big open space,” Hansen said. “It used to be that the Irvine Company had cows going up there and eating the grass. It was good for the cows but also reduced the fire risk. So for those communities building up in the hills on the other side of Irvine from us, they’re going to have to do something like that and be proactive with whatever’s necessary to cut down on the fuel close to the neighborhoods.”
Hansen was a member of the San Diego Master Chorale during college as a Tenor, performing parts of Handel’s Messiah regularly.
A fresh face in local politics, Navid Sadigh, is a second-year student at Irvine Valley College, majoring in computer science and minoring in political science. A 2021 graduate of Northwood High School, Sadigh has attended Irvine’s public schools all his academic career. He has previously served on Councilmember Tammy Kim’s Youth Advisory Council and participated in the Junior State of America, a teen civic engagement program.
Sadigh said his motivation to run for city council was the lack of action he saw on the Youth Advisory Council regarding viable internet service providers in Irvine and the need to replace Cox Communications, which he deems “expensive, slow, and unreliable.” With many residents relying on remote careers, Sadigh’s top priority is dismantling Cox’s monopoly here in Irvine.
When asked to comment on the OCPA’s alleged conflicts of interest, Sadigh shared similar sentiments with other candidates in maintaining resident-orientated informed decision-making and increasing regular auditing.
“People should be given a fact sheet of the ‘Pros and Cons of doing so they can weigh their options in terms of cost, service quality, and environmental impacts,” Sadigh said. “If we see something out of the ordinary, we need to dive deeper and hold hearings on these organizations and make sure that we act in the best interest of the people.”
He shared this view on transparency in informing homeowners, supporting a broader goal of homebuyer transparency, expanding fire insurance access, and setting clear boundaries between housing and open space.
“People should know that if there have been recent wildfires in the area, which should be disclosed at the time of purchase,” Sadigh said. California has some fire insurance programs on the state level. Still, I would also consider expanding the fire insurance program to the city and ensuring there’s a clear buffer between housing and grassland.”
What most might not know about Sadigh is that he was a code coach at the Coder School in Irvine, helping him refine his approach to understanding others, which he hopes to apply to the City Council.
“Teaching kids requires a lot of explaining material in a way that anyone will be able to understand,” Sadigh said. “I want to use those same skills in the city council, so if someone came up to me with a problem, I would be able to use those same problem-solving skills to fight for a solution to ensure their voice is heard. I would not brush their problem under the rug as many others do.”
Kathleen Treseder is a proud mom of twins and is a long-term climate educator. Treseder is a professor of biology in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Irvine and is a co-founder of the grassroots organization OC Clean Power. In addition, she is a Howard A. Schneiderman Endowed Chair, passionate about climate justice.
Furthermore, Treseder is a social rights advocate, once leading a year-long charge to fire a UCI professor for sexual assault. Treseder utilized the UCI settlement to establishing the Treseder Randerson fund to provide resources for domestic abuse in Orange County.
Treseder voiced concern regarding the increasing threat of wildfire in Irvine, noting areas near Portola where “open space burns every year.” In her research at UCI, Treseder studies how local ecosystems recover after wildfires.
“It’s climate change that is driving a lot of that. Because when it’s so dry and hot, all the vegetation dries out and makes fuel for the fire,” Treseder said. “So my solution for that is to take bold climate action. I fully support the OC firefighters and will advocate for hand crews. Irvine could use another fire hand crew to go out and clear the vegetation near our housing developments. They’re having trouble getting that fire crew, so I want to help them attain that.”
Treseder described her turning point in running for office as a moment in 2017 when her class watched in horror live as President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Treseder never expected to be a politician, but she felt she wasn’t doing enough just teaching and researching the environmental sciences.
As one of the authors of Irvine’s 2030 carbon neutrality proclamation, Treseder remains committed to direct climate action. In hopes of joining Irvine city council, she wants to “keep the momentum going as Irvine City Council has not made much progress on the resolution.”
Though a supporter of renewable energy, Treseder supports more transparency in local government, especially regarding the recent controversies at the OCPA.
“I want better transparency, and I especially want OCPA to release their full check register. For some reason, they’re leaving off their consultants, making me wonder who they are and why they aren’t telling us about them,” Treseder said. “What I want in the future is for OCPA to be as transparent about who they’re contracting with and have those contractors file conflicts of interest forms.”
What most might know about Treseder is that she is a passionate photographer in archiving local protests and civic engagement. Her photos have been published in local newspapers.
“These events are a part of history, so I want people to be aware of them this way,” Treseder said.
Anthony Kuo did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Kuo was first elected to the city council in 2018 and currently serves as Vice Mayor, Vice Chairman of the Orange County Fire Authority, and Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, according to his campaign website. He describes himself as a “proud product of Irvine public schools.”
Kuo’s campaign priorities include supporting Irvine’s police and firefighters, taxpayer advocacy, and aiding local youth sports.
Before his tenure on the city council, Kuo served as a city planning commissioner for eight years and was a member of the Irvine Unified School District Liaison Committee and the Tustin Unified School District Liaison Committee. In addition, according to his candidate statement, he served on the Boards of the Irvine Barclay Theater and the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.
John Park did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Park is Chair of the Irvine Finance Commission and is a former HOA president who has led community efforts in various food drives. Park is also a Korean-American immigrant and father to three children, raising them through the Irvine public schools system.
His campaign priorities include a commitment to public safety, local businesses, and mitigating traffic congestion. He also seeks to advocate for greater diversity in community services for “children, seniors, the disabled, and our aging veterans.”
On his campaign website, he describes himself as “a patriot, an immigrant, a devoted son, a husband to my much better half, a Dad (Daddy) to 3 amazing kids, a business leader, a fiscal conservative, and a true advocate of Irvine.”
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